ACE 2021 Movie & TV Piracy Trends: More than 30% of box office revenue lost

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About 15% of box office revenue is lost to piracy during the theatrical release window, which is generally equivalent to $1B per year, according to the study by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.  ACE also estimated that 19% of box office revenue is lost due to pre-release piracy, as compared with the what would have occurred if there was no piracy before a movie’s release.

In the US, ACE estimates that pirate IPTV subscriptions are taken by about 9 million subscribers, taking in about $1B in revenue per year. In 2021, there were nearly 15 billion visits to TV and film piracy sites, and about 1.4B downloads of widely-released movies, TV and VOD shows using P2P protocols alone (e.g. excluding streaming and downloading sites.)

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The study also estimated that each of the top five piracy sites made an average of more than $18M in annual revenue.  Ad revenue through illicit Web sites and streaming apps in was estimated at about $1.34B, plus $259M through the top piracy mobile apps.  About a quarter of illicit advertising revenue is attributed to malvertising, a technique used by criminals to target consumers with malware.

Profit margins were estimated at 56% for pirate retailers, and 85% for pirate wholesalers.


The ACE report aggregated data from reports published by anti-piracy organizations and government agencies in Canada, Austalia, the UK, Europe, Latin America and Japan.

In addition, the ACE report used data from the market intelligence company SimilarWeb across a group of sites often used for online piracy by category.   The SimilarWeb data was for sites that had more than 10,000 copyright removal requests according to the Google Transparency Report as of December 2021.   For the United States, 32,311 sites were included, based on the SimilarWeb data, made up of 25,835 streaming sites, 7,178 P2P sites and 1,358 cyberlocker/hosting sites.

These were sites with any TV or movie content, but not sites with only adult, music, games, user-created or ebook content, sites blocked in various countries or sites dhut down due to copyright infringement which have TV or movie content, and sites from (operated by the City of London Police), (a directory of known pirate sites) and other internal and external sources.

Read the full report

2021 Movie & TV Piracy Trends Worldwide. PDF. Published November 14, 2022. Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

Why it matters

Studies like this one represent convenient reference points for observers who are skeptical about the impact of piracy.

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