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Exclusive shows on HBO, Netflix leading to increase in piracy, study finds

Along with other services like Amazon and Hulu

Stranger Things Season 1 Netflix

Keeping up with acclaimed and popular TV series on every single streaming service is expensive and, according to a new study, leading to an increase in piracy.

Cam Cullen, the Vice President of Global Marketing at Sandvine, a leading research and network company, wrote a blog post condensing the findings of an in-depth report released yesterday. The most interesting detail notes that usage of torrent services like BitTorrent are up almost 10 percent since 2015. Between 2011 and 2015, BitTorrent saw a massive decline in usage within the United States, dropping from 52 percent to just under 27 percent. Now, the number of people using BitTorrent is beginning to increase again, and Cullen said that’s because of exclusive content divided among streaming services.

“More sources than ever are producing ‘exclusive’ content available on a single streaming or broadcast service — think Game of Thrones for HBO, House of Cards for Netflix, The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu, or Jack Ryan for Amazon,” Cullen wrote. “To get access to all of these services, it gets very expensive for a consumer, so they subscribe to one or two and pirate the rest.”

This is only going to increase in coming years. Companies like Crunchyroll, VRV and Apple are all getting into the streaming game, producing original series that customers have to sign up for in order to watch. Disney, one of the leading companies in entertainment, is also set to launch its own streaming service, which will be designed around exclusive titles. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, told The Hollywood Reporter he’s not interested in producing a large number of shows or movies (like Netflix), but wants to focus on exclusive, quality.

“They’re a volume play with a lot of quality within their volume,” Iger said, talking about Netflix. “And we’re going to be a quality play with enough volume and enough scale to provide the consumer with a good price-to-value relationship.”

Cullen wrote in his blog post that not only are exclusivity deals a big reason that torrenting is up again. Producing a high-quality, popular show (like a Loki limited series with Tom Hiddleston or a new Star Wars show) makes people anxious to watch the show, so they’re not going to wait. A perfect example is Game of Thrones, which continues to be the most pirated show every single year, and a big part of that is because of exclusivity issues.

Still, exclusivity is not going anywhere and, according to this report, that may just continue to drive piracy issues.

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