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Global Consumer Study: 15% Illegally Downloading Movies

23 Jun, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Despite the proliferation of Web sites offering free ad-supported (largely) repurposed television programming and select movies, 15% of international consumers who download video admitted to acquiring content illegally from file-sharing sites, according to a new report.

The study, “Living with Digital: Consumer Insights into Entertainment Consumption,” from Futuresource Consulting was based on more than 2,500 online respondents from France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom. It found that one-in-four (25%) French viewers chose illegal (over legal) download sites from which to acquire movies or TV shows online.

The widespread availability of illicit content presents a major obstacle to the development of online content services and continues to heavily impact nascent revenue, despite government and industry attempts to tighten the distribution channels.

Indeed, the report found that most online consumers are not paying for streamed video content, including 90% of respondents who said they had never paid for news content or repurposed prime time TV shows. But more than 50% said they would consider paying a premium for downloaded video content if it were offered in high definition or could be transferred to another device.

Despite the omnipresent lure of piracy, 90% of French cable TV subscribers said they paid extra monthly for movies while counterparts in Germany opted to pay a premium for sports and TV shows. About 80% of U.K. cable subscribers said they used the BBC iPlayer to watch free repurposed TV programming on demand.

Among owners of Blu-ray players (stand alone and PlayStation 3) the ability to receive entertainment content via the Internet was just as important as high-definition resolution.

Alison Casey, head of global content at Futuresource, said less than 1% of respondents said they would halt repurposed video content online if it was interspersed with advertising. Another 30% said video ads had no impact on viewing and less than 50% said the ads interfered only slightly.

“This is a good indication of the suitability of the [ad-supported] business model to long-form online content,” Casey said.

Nearly 66% of U.K. respondents, followed closely by those in the U.S., said they watched repurposed TV shows, movies and related video on a PC or laptop. Interestingly, just 33% said they watched repurposed content on a TV connected to a laptop.

“Of those who have never connected a laptop to a TV, many didn’t know how or had never thought about doing it,” Casey said.

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