Survey: More than a third of US adults admit to pirating TV or movies in past 12 months

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A survey of about 1,000 US adults by examined facts and attitudes about consumers streaming or illegally downloading TV programming or movies on unauthorized websites.  Nearly 75% of those consumers said that they would use legitimate streaming services if they were cheaper. Conversely, 11% of people who do not pirate content say they would do it if they only knew how.

Almost half of American adults have pirated content at some point. Men are more likely to do so than women: 56 percent of men admitted to pirating TV shows or movies, compared to 43 percent of women; according to the research.

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These consumers illegally stream or download about two shows or movies per month, which is just a small fraction of overall TV consumption.’s respondents said that consumers of illegal sources use a mix of downloading and streaming, with 10% using content pirated by someone else.

In October 2023, eMarketer released research that the average time spent by US adults per day was about two hours for streaming and about two-and-a-half for ‘linear’ (aka traditional pay TV and broadcast distribution).  In alignment with that finding,’s research found that almost 80 percent of adults who pirated content in the last year also paid for two or more streaming services.

Usage patterns

The research found Generation Z to have the highest portion of piracy consumers, at 76%.  At the other end of the spectrum, Boomers (ages 60-78) to have the lowest, at 28%.  Millennials and GenX were 67% and 41% respectively.

Unlike research from other sources, reported that 35% of piracy consumers were consuming less stolen content over the most recent 12 months, while 11% were consuming more.  The remaining 54% consumed illegal sources at the same rate as before.

Why US consumers turn to piracy. Source: June 2024

The table shows that more than a third of consumers turn to illegal sources due to the expense. noted that prices for the most popular streaming services have doubled since their respective introductions.  Also, restrictions imposed by the content result in illegal consumption.

Why do we not? found that about half of American adults have never pirated a TV show or movie. Their reasoning included legal risks (copyright infringement), ethical concerns, personal morality, interest in supporting creators, lack of knowledge about how to consume illegal content, poor quality, and the risk of infection by malware.  Respondents also offered suggestions to reduce piracy.

Methodology conducted an online poll of 988 American adults in March 2023. Respondents were representative of the U.S. population regarding gender, ethnicity, and age, according to Cordcutting.

Further reading

The State of Content Piracy 2024. Research summary. April 23, 2024. by Sam Blake.

Strategies for getting the most out of CTV advertising, from Warner Bros. Discovery, Tubi, and more.  Article. October 24, 2023. by Sara Lebow. eMarketer

Why it matters recognized that “The ongoing battle between services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and Apple TV – sometimes called the streaming wars – has given viewers lots of entertainment options. Yet with pressure mounting on these services to show their investors that the costs of doing business are worthwhile, some have looked to boost profits by raising prices and making it harder for users to share passwords.

“While some viewers may accept these changes and simply dig deeper into their wallets, others might be deterred and (instead) turn instead to piracy.”

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