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Content piracy thrives in Russia

Viewing pirated content is extremely common among Russian consumers, largely due to the cost and availability of legal content, according to new research from Irdeto.

Viewing pirated content is extremely common among Russian consumers, largely due to the cost and availability of legal content, according to new research from Irdeto. The online research revealed that almost three quarters of consumers in Russia, 70 per cent watch, pirated video content, with 16 per cent watching it more than once a week ­ showing that pirated content is much more pervasive here than in the US, UK, Australia, Singapore and India, based on previous Irdeto global research.

In October last year it was reported that Russia was to toughen up anti-piracy laws. Legal counsel to the Russian Film and TV Producers’ Association, Sergey Semenov, claimed that the existing legislation – forcing websites to remove illegal content – did not go far enough and that such websites which repeatedly held pirated content should instead be closed down completely. The anti-piracy law in Russia had already been made stricter in 2013, with communications watch dog Roskomnadzor, given authority to shut down websites allegedly containing pirated materials before court decisions, at rights holders’ requests.

In terms of video content, ad-funded services are clearly the most popular among respondents who watch entertainment content with 43 per cent saying they watch video content through these services most frequently. However, almost one quarter of respondents primarily use pirate services to watch content. This makes pirate services more popular than both subscription services and pay per view. According to the research, the main reason respondents would watch pirated content is that legal content is too expensive, followed by not wanting to wait for official releases and not being available locally.

Piracy popularity increases among younger viewers: While ad-funded services are still the most popular among 18-24 year old respondents who watch entertainment content (43 per cent), pirate services are more widely used as the main source of content among this age group. More than a third of 18-24 year old respondents said they watch entertainment content through pirate services most frequently.

When asked about the reasons stopping them from watching more entertainment through their chosen content provider, the most identified reason is that the content providers are too expensive. This is followed by poor connectivity, lack of available content and insufficient multiscreen options.

There is a clear desire for multiscreen services among consumers in Russia with the top three devices used to watch video content identified as desktop PCs, used by 79 per cent of respondents, smartphones (used by 47 per cent) and tablets (45 per cent).

When it comes to a multiscreen or internet TV service, the ability to download content to watch later was identified as the most important function with 18 per cent of respondents choosing this over any other function.

“The prevalence of piracy in the Russian market is clearly identified by this research, with high content costs, longer windows and lack of availability fuelling the situation,” said Andrey Silanchev, business development director, Russia and CIS, Irdeto. “While this is partly due to the economic situation, it’s clear that operators must make multiscreen and OTT content in this market either ad-funded or very affordable through low subscription fees. Ancillary devices outside the living room are clearly very prevalent in Russia and if pay TV operators are not fulfilling demand, this is another opportunity for pirated content services.”

The research was commissioned by Irdeto and conducted online by YouGov among a representative sample of over 1,000 Russian adults.