Despite the prevalence of legitimate subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming sites like Netflix, iFlix and Disney Plus, 49 percent of Filipinos still access illegal piracy websites or torrent sites to watch movies and TV shows, according to a recent study about online content viewing behavior.
In a survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s (AVIA) Coalition Against Piracy, nearly half of Filipinos resorted to piracy to watch their favorite movies and TV shows.
The levels of piracy went as high as 53 percent for those aged 25-43. Of those who accessed pirated material, 47 percent cancelled their subscriptions to both local and international content services.
The study puts the Philippines in the third spot among areas with the highest rates of piracy. Leading the list is Thailand (53 percent), Vietnam (50 percent), Hong Kong (48 percent) and Taiwan (33 percent). At the bottom of the list is Singapore with only 17 percent.
The levels of piracy in the Philippines now dwarfs our Southeast Asian neighbors which have seen substantial reductions in online piracy over the last 12 months. In Indonesia, a similar YouGov survey found out that 28 percent accessed pirated websites, down from 63 percent in 2019.
In Malaysia, users have reported a 64 percent decline in piracy compared to 2019 levels. A key similarity in both countries was the proactive role of the government in blocking piracy websites.
In spite of the results, the study also said that most Filipinos are aware of the negative effects of piracy in the Philippines. Half, or 50 percent of those surveyed, agreed that piracy can result in joblessness for those employed by the creative industry.
A larger portion, or 55 percent, believed that piracy allows crime groups to benefit from other people’s work while 49 percent are aware of the malware risks associated with downloading stolen video content.
In the Philippine Senate, a bill titled ‘Online Infringement Act’ (Senate Bill No. 497) proposes establishing a regulatory site blocking mechanism that would empower authorities to ensure that ISPs take “reasonable steps to disable access to sites whenever these sites are reported to be infringing copyright or facilitating copyright infringement.”
The recent survey also suggests that majority of Filipino consumers, or 53 percent, would support a regulatory site blocking mechanism and believed this approach would be most effective in curbing piracy.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) also highlighted the damaging effects of online piracy.
“The wide variety of legal services in the Philippines which provide premium entertainment content are reliable and importantly, are legal. The piracy alternatives fund crime groups, put consumers at risk of malware infection and are unreliable. Piracy only benefits the criminal organizations who are behind these illegal websites,” IPOPHL director general Atty. Teodoro Pascua.