Culling the Pirate Scourge

News outlets are always looking for the controversial story. This is why when news outlets plastered their headlines with the latest Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation’s statement that Netflix and other streaming services have failed to stop hard core pirates. But they missed something . . .

Jack Sparrow

You can’t fault news outlets. The main aim of their existence is to sell news and the advertising which accompanies it. So, of course, they will be looking for a story which gets an audience riled enough to find out more. But this week’s piracy headline actually had a little more to it.

At the Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast this week, the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation revealed something very interesting. While Australia may have a much bigger piracy problem than many other countries, piracy rates have actually fallen from 2014 to 2015. And they have fallen across almost every demographic – except those in the 35-49 age group. In fact, for the 18-24 demographic, the most prolific piraters, the statistic has dropped from 54% to 46%. Why?

Well, despite every Australian news outlet’s assertion surrounding hard core pirates, the solution has been Netflix! Let me address the majority of Australians before I get to these intense pirates.

Many people say that this decline can be attributed to guilt. They aren’t wrong as this guilt does play a small part in piracy decisions – especially with the highly publicised Dallas Buyers Club case – but if guilt was the catalyst for this decision then they would stop when they hear an actor plead out against piracy. No, the real reason is accessibility.

The Australian entertainment industry has gone through a dramatic change in the last six months. Video on demand. All of a sudden, every Australian with an internet connection has access to more content than they could dream of watching available on demand whenever they want to watch it. And between Netflix, Presto, Stan and the mainstream channels enhancing their catch up sites, there are very few television shows that Australian’s cannot access.

If you don’t believe me, look at the Netflix statistics. In April this year there were 748,000 people with access to Netflix. Over the last six months this figure has more than tripled to 2,221,000 people. Roughly the same proportion of Australians who have gone ‘cold turkey’ on their piracy habits.

But what distinguishes the group of people who gave up piracy when they could purchase a legal option for a small price? This is where the guilt comes in. Finally these consumers have an opportunity which has a cost less than the psychological cost of the guilt. For ten dollars a month, they can allay any bad feelings they might have had and now have access to more content than they wished they could access.

So what about the rest?

Well, it will be a combination of both. There are groups of Australians who will never pay for their entertainment. No matter how much guilt you throw at them, they will always value getting entertainment for free over paying any price. But everyone else has a threshold.

Now it is up to the marketers for the solution. The less detached you make pirates and the more information is communicated (in a meaningful manner) about the harm they are causing, the closer these people will get to the guilt outweighing the price of legal downloads. It isn’t hard, it just takes a really good consumer behaviour campaign . . . Get on it!