In a pair of mid-May research articles measuring piracy distribution by torrent, MUSO found piracy of the top 100 films by torrent to have increased by 45% for January through March of 2022, compared with 2021. For TV, MUSO measured 33.6 billion visits to piracy Web sites for the first four months of 2022.
During the first half of May, season one of Moon Knight, a TV show produced in the UK accounted for nearly a third of traffic worldwide, among the top ten most popular TV titles distributed illegally by torrent, for the first half of May. The movie Sonic The Hedgehog 2 had global appeal over piracy channels and accounted for 24% of all torrents across the top ten movie titles during the first seven days of May.
For the quarter ending March 2022, however, Spider-Man: No Way Home was the most popular, accounting for 35% of demand for the top ten movies torrented in Q1. Ranked by country, the UK ranked 3rd for TV piracy from January through April 2022, up from 6th position the year before.
Piracy seems to correlate with lack of availability
After a $350 million theatrical window for Sonic The Hedgehog 2, MUSO tracked torrent activity on May 3, which was weeks in advance of the movie’s US release on the Paramount Plus streaming service. 29% of piracy for this movie was from US audiences, said MUSO. The second- and third-ranked torrented movies were The Bad Guys and Uncharted, which are also family movies.
Further reading from MUSO
Why it matters
MUSO has done an excellent job in boosting the awareness of TV and movie piracy by regularly releasing piracy data at a macro level. A 45% increase in film piracy year-over-year is a figure that should certainly have one sit up and take notice.
By contrast, a European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) report released last fall reported that between January 2017 and December 2020, overall access to pirated content was down by half, across the EU’s 27 member states, including the UK. Film and TV piracy were down 68% and 41% respectively.
Why such a discrepancy? It’s an apples-and-oranges comparison. MUSO’s 45% is for torrent only, while EUIPO reported on overall piracy. By MUSO’s own account, unlicensed streaming accounts for 95% of TV piracy globally, making piracy by torrent almost a rounding error in comparison with streaming.
There’s no reason to dismiss either set of estimates. Ideally, rights-holders might best look to a combination of their own measurements and third party data, and then build experience over time to help them validate or fine-tune any assumptions.