Half of Filipinos use illegal streaming websites — survey

A SURVEY showed the Philippines ranked third among eight East and Southeast Asian countries in terms of consumers admitting to having accessed piracy websites, behind Thailand and Vietnam. — REUTERS

NEARLY HALF (49%) of Filipinos admitted to using illegal streaming websites or torrent websites, which has hurt potential growth of subscription-based content service providers in the country, a study commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) showed.

The study also found that 47% of Filipino participants who illegally watched or downloaded videos through piracy websites had suspended their subscriptions to video content service providers.

Conducted by YouGov for Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) in September, the online survey covered 1,098 Filipinos. AVIA is an industry association whose members include TV broadcast, digital content, advertising and video delivery service providers.

“While legal SVOD (subscription video on demand) monetization is growing, piracy remains pervasive in the Philippines,” Neil Gane, general manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy, was quoted as saying in a statement.

Subscription video on demand is projected to become a $250-million industry in the Philippines this year, but Mr. Gane said the industry is expected to lose around $120 million to piracy. SVOD players currently in the country include Netflix, Viu, HBO Go and Prime Video.

“Piracy is depriving SVOD of $120 million in revenue per annum, more than 90% of the current legal opportunity,” Mr. Gane said.

The survey showed the Philippines ranked third among eight East and Southeast Asian countries in terms of consumers admitting to having accessed piracy websites, behind Thailand (53%) and Vietnam (50%).

On the other hand, Malaysia and Indonesia saw significant reduction in online piracy with 64% and 55% decline, respectively, over the last 12 months.

“In both countries, a key variable for the decline in online piracy levels was the government’s proactive piracy site blocking initiative. In Malaysia, more than half (55%) of online consumers noticed that a piracy service had been blocked by the Malaysian government, which subsequently influenced viewing habits with 49% stating that they no longer accessed piracy services and 40% saying that they now ‘rarely accessed’ piracy services as a result of the site blocking,” the AVIA’s study said.

The survey showed 53% of Filipino respondents agree that a “government order or law for ISPs to block piracy websites” would be the most effective measure.

Senate Bill No. 497 or the Online Infringement Act proposes a regulatory site blocking mechanism to allow the authorities to ensure that internet service providers (ISP) take “reasonable steps to disable access to sites whenever these sites are reported to be infringing copyright or facilitating copyright infringement.”

“We are confident that Indonesia and Malaysia will rise to become market leaders in video (intellectual property) protection in the region, as a result of their site-blocking strategies. We are also confident that other countries in Asia, such as the Philippines, will take note and follow suit, boosting the growth of legal consumption of Filipino and international content,” Mr. Gane said.

Around 50% of the respondents said online piracy would lead to job losses in the creative industry. About 49% of respondents also said online piracy increases the risk of malware infections on computers and devices. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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