In the Middle East region, video piracy is most prevalent among young audiences between the ages of 18 and 24, according to the findings of a new online survey conducted by content protection technology company Irdeto.
It's not just younger viewers -- the study found that 59% of respondents in Egypt and 53% in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) admitted to watching pirated videos. But younger viewers were most likely, with 64% in Egypt and 62% in the GCC admitting to pirating video content. In fact, more than one in five young respondents in both regions pirate videos more than once a week.
Irdeto claims this is the largest survey on consumer piracy attitudes ever conducted, with more than 25,000 respondents surveyed in 30 countries. This particular data set comes from an online survey of 3,734 18-plus respondents, conducted in February by YouGov. Respondents were from Egypt and the GCC (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.) Data has been weighted and is representative of the urban population of adults in listed countries.
Irdeto also believes that a shift is underway from laptops to mobile devices. Today, 43% of "pirates" in Egypt and 47% in the GCC use laptops most frequently to access pirated videos, but about a third in both regions are using smartphones and tablets. Among the 18-24 demographic, this is more pronounced, with 36% in Egypt and 38% in the GCC preferring mobile devices.
Live sports and movies were the most popular genres of content, with men substantially more likely to be streaming pirated content than women.
The study also found that educating consumers about piracy would help, with 46% of Egyptians and 47% of those in the GCC region saying they would watch less pirated content if they "understood the negative impact of piracy on the media industry."
I'm not sure this is a reliable conclusion to draw; getting real insight into topics such as piracy or porn is always difficult via a survey, because people are uncomfortable answering honestly. It's entirely possible that this study significantly underestimates the amount of piracy in these regions, because not all respondents answered honestly. Online surveys are better than telephone surveys, but even then some dishonesty is to be expected.
Asking respondents if they would change behavior if they understood some aspect of the economics of the media industry is taking things even further, and really stretching what a survey can tell you.
But it is interesting to compare data on this issue with equivalent data from the US. Approximately one-third of video pirates in these Middle East regions claimed they were not sure it was illegal to download or stream pirated video, and just under half said they would stop if they understood the negative impact on the media industry.
In comparison, 69% of video pirates in the US believed downloading or streaming pirated content is illegal -- but when they were told that this would result in studios losing money and creating less content, 39% simply didn't care. And European pirates were even worse: 45% didn't care.
Irdeto believes the solution is to offer high-quality content at affordable prices on the preferred devices of young viewers while simultaneously using "a robust 360-degree approach to anti-piracy -- one that includes watermarking, detection and enforcement."
The company also believes that consumer education, citing the negative impact of piracy on revenue -- and as a result, in the production of new, high-quality content -- will help reduce piracy, but I am less convinced this will have an impact.
Irdeto cites worldwide data from this study, which found that 48% would stop watching or watch less illegal content after learning the damage that piracy causes the media industry. In particular, respondents from Latin America and Asia-Pacific would be more likely to stop pirating content, according to the study.
But I think there's a difference between what respondents will say and do, when it comes to illegal activities. Younger audiences, with limited discretionary spending, are unlikely to simply stop pirating content, or be concerned about a multi-millionaire movie star losing money.
My guess is that Irdeto's initial suggestion is the best approach: make it as difficult as possible to pirate content, while simultaneously making it as easy as possible to get high-quality content legally.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation