Oscar-nominated films drive 385% spike in worldwide piracy

DetailsJoseph O'Halloran | 20 February 2015

The red carpet is being rolled out, however the Oscars won't just be a platform for the stars but also piracy, with potential revenue loss of over $40 million from leaked Hollywood films says data from Irdeto.

IrdetoThe anti-piracy and revenue assurance solutions provider monitored illegal downloads of films in the US and over 200 countries worldwide from 1 January to 14 February 2015 and found a 385% increase in piracy worldwide for nominated films following the announcements on 15 January.

Nominated films were pirated from a number of formats including Blu-ray discs, HDTV, CAM (cameras), DVD and other sources. However, Hollywood screeners specifically accounted for a substantial 31% of the total illegal downloads tracked between 15 January and 14 February.

Hollywood screeners are traditionally Blu-Ray discs or DVDs (although some studios are now moving to online distribution) given to film critics, awards voters and other film industry professionals for an advanced screening. Six nominated movies currently unavailable for retail purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD, VOD or legal streaming/download sites saw the majority of piracy coming directly from these screeners: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Wild, Selma, Whiplash and Still Alice. While not every illegal download can be considered a lost sale, Irdeto estimates a potential over $40 million in retail revenue that could have been captured for these six titles, if they had been made available to consumers.

While Gone Girl was the early piracy frontrunner before nominations, American Sniper took the lead and is currently the most pirated film in the world post-nomination, according to the data. Irdeto found a spike in piracy for almost every country following the nominations. Outside of the US, the top ten countries that account for most of the total of three million illegal downloads are: Russia, Italy, United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, India, Australia, Spain, South Korea and the Netherlands. Alternatively, the countries with the highest percentage of piracy per Internet user population were Australia, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

"Our data clearly shows that the rest of the world is paying attention to the Academy Awards and there is significant demand for new movies to be available earlier, in more geographies and over more platforms," said Rory O'Connor, VP Services, Irdeto, and the company's global expert on online piracy and countermeasures. "In the world of Internet re-distribution, the window between theatrical release and worldwide market availability may simply be too long, leaving room for pirates to take advantage and offer consumers alternative means of instant gratification. Today's consumers simply refuse to wait to access these movies through legitimate services."