Disney+ Star Wars feature is pirated almost immediately

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Unavailability drives piracy. That’s the basic premise of an article by the UK-based consumer review site Comparitech, about early piracy of the new Disney+ service that launched on November 12 in the US, Canada and The Netherlands.  New Zealand and Australia will follow on November 19. Western Europe has to wait until March 31, 2020.

Interviewed by CNBC on November 8, just days prior to launch, Disney CEO Bob Iger commented that “(Piracy is) obviously something we’ll be mindful of. … we’ll watch it carefully with various tools, technology tools that we have available to us to monitor it. But it’s obviously something that we have to watch.”

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A few hours after launch, Comparatech run a Google Trends report on the search term “Mandalorian Torrents” and found piracy of The Mandalorian, the Star Wars hook to lure consumers into Disney+, showing demand for pirate torrents to be greatest in Spain.

Piracy Monitor was curious to see whether the situation had evolved by running its own report at about 1:30pm Pacific Time on November 13. It showed that Spain remains at the top of the list, but the rest of the top ten were no longer all in Western Europe.

Image Source: Piracy Monitor, using Google Trends and the search term ‘Mandalorian Torrents’

It’s interesting to see that torrent interest in Canada and The Netherlands ranked much higher than the US, even though Disney+ was legal in all three regions (green bars). It also verifies demand for Disney+ in its next launch markets, Australia and New Zealand (yellow). The red bars represent demand in countries around the world; not just in Western Europe.

ZD Net reported that just hours after launch, legitimate subscribers began contacting Disney+ customer support to complain that their accounts had been hacked and their passwords changed.  Hackers began to offer account credentials for prices as high as $11 per user ($4 higher than Disney charges for the legal service).

Why it’s important

It’s not rocket surgery to see that the biggest consumer drivers for video piracy are availability, price and convenience, followed by user experience.

If the property isn’t available from legitimate sources, it will be stolen. Some will do it because they can. Others will host the files and offer them as streams. In any case, it will be interesting to watch the anti-piracy efforts unfold. We’ll revisit this from time to time.

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