Innovation Files has moved! For ITIF's quick takes, quips, and commentary on the latest in tech policy, go to

Spoiler Alert! Illegal Downloaders Steal Content Even When Legally Available

The film and TV industry receives a lot of flak from critics for being its own worst enemy. If Hollywood studios want consumers to pay for content, the argument goes, then they should make it easier to download legally. If piracy is a problem for the industry, then maybe it should take a hard look in the mirror.

The only problem with this argument is that it’s completely false. KPMG just released a first of its kind study assessing the availability of movies and TV shows online. It found that as of December 2013, 81 percent of the 808 unique films studied were available on at least 10 of the 34 online video-on-demand (VOD) service providers. Only 50 of the films studied were not available on any of the 34 online video offerings that KPMG reviewed. The study also found rapid growth in the number of TV viewing options available to audiences. Overall, 85 percent of the most popular and critically acclaimed TV titles were available in the U.S. through legitimate online video services.

This development could not be timelier, with both the ramp up to the Oscars and Fall TV primetime viewing beginning. If viewers like Reese Witherspoon in Wild and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game (both movies already receiving 2015 Oscar buzz), then it turns out it’s pretty easy for them to engross themselves in watching these actors’ earlier work. Viewers can catch up on old episodes of Sherlock on Netflix or enjoy Walk the Line or Legally Blonde through Amazon. And everyone from the New York Times to Buzzfeed this week has been celebrating the addition of Gilmore Girls to Netflix on October 1st — proving that new, beloved content is becoming available every day.

Indeed, of the 808 films reviewed, KPMG found many new and relatively recent films available, such as:

  • 100 percent of 2012 U.S. top 100 box office hits
  • 100 percent of all 85 Oscar winning best films
  • 100 percent of all 60 Indie top hit films from 2011-2013
  • 98 percent of U.S. Top 20 box office hits each year from 2000 through 2010
  • 96 percent of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 critically acclaimed films
  • 77 percent of 2013 U.S. Top 100 box office hits (including films that were still in first-run in theaters at the time of the study)

The same is true of TV — KMPG found that 87 percent of the Top 100 U.S. TV shows in 2013 and 96 percent of the top 100 U.S. TV shows in 2012 were available on at least one of the 34 services studied.

Accessing content isn’t that hard, and as this study shows, to complain about the difficulty in doing so is frankly mostly whining. So to those out there who continuously find joy and righteousness in lamenting the difficulty of finding recent good shows and movies online the timeless words of Lorelai Gilmore are probably the best response: Oy with the poodles already.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email