To pirate or not to pirate?

 

Just thought I would share my thoughts on an ongoing debate in this country regarding illegal downloads (mainly through Torrent sites). ABC’s 7.30 covered this issue Tuesday night after the Season 4 finale of Game of Thrones (definitely worth a watch): http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s4027339.htm

Hundreds of thousands of Australians illegally downloaded the finale as soon as it aired on HBO in the States, and Australia consistently tops the charts when it comes to this practice. There are two sides to this debate which are pretty polarising:

“YOU’RE STEALING FROM US!!” (Foxtel argument): 

Basically Foxtel is screaming blue murder with what they see as consumers actively and willingly illegally downloading content which they pay the rights for to screen in Australia. In the 7.30 story, Bruce Meagher from Foxtel argues there is a “moral disconnect” where consumers are perfectly comfortable with stealing content because they perceive it as being too expensive. It’s getting so out of control they’re lobbying the government to table legislation pressuring ISPs to send out letters to customers if they offend. Given Rupert Murdoch’s interest in Foxtel and his obvious friendliness bias to the Abbott Government (please refer to one (of many) ridiculous front pages of the Daily Telegraph during the 2013 election campaign), this type of legislation does have a chance of gaining momentum.

“YOU NEED TO BE LESS RESTRICTIVE!!” (basically everyone else’s argument): 

As it currently stands, in order to watch Game of Thrones legally in Australia, you must watch it through Foxtel. Consumers and consumer groups (such as Choice) see this as an outdated business model. In order to generate more revenue and cross-sell, you must pay for a package which includes GoT, but also other programmes (such as Real Housewives) which you might not want. All this drives up the price and isn’t seen as viable for consumers. Foxtel locked in an exclusive deal with HBO earlier this year which meant that other popular providers such as iTunes and QuickFlix wouldn’t be able to offer the show until the season ended, thus consolidating Foxtel’s legal monopoly of the programme. Torrenters argue that due to the total lack of competitiveness in market, consumers have no other choice but to illegally download the programme.

I’ve run some figures in eTAM showing YOY average audiences by month from 2012 onwards (total people in 000s). As you can see, Foxtel’s audience is dropping every single year. It’s evident they need to change their business model, or lose more viewers/subscribers moving forward. However, the current path they’re going down is the exact opposite so it will be interesting to see what comes of this in the near future. It definitely seems to me that the old guard is trying to put more and more restrictions on consumers to reinforce their dominance when they really should be taking on board consumer grievances and adapt their model accordingly.

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I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this.

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