Anna Meadows (left), head researcher and study author, Sycamore, and John Medeiros, chief policy officer of CASBAA, both agreed that in order to reduce piracy, it is important to increase the friction involved in consuming pirated programming.
New study revealed that almost 50% of Singaporeans are engaged in online piracy with the understanding that pirating is an act of theft
39% of Singaporeans admitted that they are active in illegal streaming or downloading movies, TV shows or live sports channels, according to a research study released by research company, Sycamore, at a CASBAA-sponsored event in Singapore.
While two-thirds of Singaporeans agree that piracy is stealing, nearly three quarters of the population consider piracy to be a normal or typical behaviour, Sycamore revealed. In addition, piracy is benefiting from technological advancement, as it is now easier for consumers to access online media content, John Medeiros, chief policy officer of CASBAA, told APB.
He highlighted that online piracy consumption in urban cities are higher than rural areas, due to better connectivity of broadband networks that provide consumers easy access to content, hence increasing the growth of online piracy.
The primary incentive behind the act of downloading pirated content, according to Sycamore, is that it costs nothing to pirate with 63% of respondents indicating that their decision to pirate was motivated by the desire to access content for free.
Anna Meadows, head researcher and study author, Sycamore, said: “There are few perceived downsides to piracy. Whilst the risk of devices being infected with viruses or malware is understood, it is underweighted. In the face of the benefit of free content, people appear to discount the risks, as the idea of getting something for nothing is so psychologically powerful.”
In recent years, several over-the-top (OTT) players have entered the media market, providing “more affordable” media content for consumers to enjoy at their convenience.
However, OTT is not going to be the savior of legitimate content, cautioned CASBAA’s Medeiros. “We’ve spoke to many OTT players, and they inevitably said that their biggest competitor is piracy because they are right in the same space as the pirates,” he explained. “I think OTT services play an important role in reducing the friction from legitimate content supply. However, piracy is free, and there will still be a substantial number of people who will go with free content.”
While there is a possibility to convert a pirate to a subscriber, Sycamore’s Meadows added, it would require concerted effort from both governments and media companies. She said: “There are certain things the media industry can do to encourage people to behave in a certain way. For instance, we could ease the process of obtaining legal content, and introduce some friction into the process of getting illegal content. In this way, it’s human nature for most people to go for the easy option.
“Over the years, we’ve seen countless advertising campaigns explaining to the public about piracy, yet they are still behaving this way despite being more well informed. It’s the behaviour that needs the focus, rather than the attitude. We can now take measures like manipulating the environment to encourage people to make better choices. In this way, we’re changing their behaviour, and attitudes will soon follow.”