Study to be presented at Edinburgh Television Festival

Piracy an increasing problem for UK TV and film industries

A study to be presented at the Edinburgh Television Festival reveals that the TV industry in the UK is facing dramatic digital disruption and huge piracy problems just as the Music Industry has done over the last decade.

With increasing use of illegal file sharing sites offering individual programmes, whole series and feature films the industry could lose millions of pounds not only from lost sales, but from lost subscriptions and forsaken advertising revenues.

Key findings reveal that:

  • Piracy has hit the recorded music industry hard with sales shrinking to 1994 levels and is spreading rampantly to TV and Film
  • Popular UK show Top Gear is consistently one of the most illegally swapped shows, especially in the US.
  • Charging for television programmes that had been free leads to a significant spike in illegal downloads.
  • Millions of television viewers now access free, unauthorised versions of favourite shows and this is beginning to replace standard viewing hours.
  • Top illegal TV swaps included Desperate Housewives, 24 and Prison Break whilst top films included Slumdog Millionaire and Twilight. 
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The music industry was the first to fully feel the force of digital disruption. It is important for the film and television industries to understand and learn from the experience of the music business and to look not just at possible lost value, but the opportunities that digital distribution can bring

Will Page - Chief Economist, PRS for Music
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Millions of television viewers now access free, unauthorised versions of favourite shows at least some of the time. This is a socially acceptable form of casual piracy - and it is replacing viewing hours.

Eric Garland - Chief Executive, Big Champagne