Shorter Release Windows and VOD Platforms Are Seriously Hurting Piracy

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated September 24, 2021

Who would have thought that the answer to the piracy problem would be to change the model of content distribution? Certainly not the big Hollywood studios that have been trying to smash illegal file-sharing in courts, failing to leave any measurable impact in the scene. As it seems to be the case right now, piracy is at an all-time low, courtesy of COVID-19 restrictions that forced filmmaking studios to consider alternative business models, daring to break rules that have been so firmly cemented in the industry.

For those of you who have missed the relevant developments in the field, Universal and AMC agreed to shorten the cinema exclusivity period, and Universal started experimenting with straight to VOD releases last year. Walt Disney, a firm believer of the “traditional” model, followed the same path shortly after, releasing the highly-anticipated Mulan movie straight to its Disney+ platform. And by the end of the year, two more powerhouses - Sony and WarnerMedia - began to flirt with similar ideas and business approaches, as it became clear that the future of film entertainment couldn’t be fit in a typical “return to normality.”

Now, TorrentFreak reports that the number of leaked pirate screeners concerning Oscar contenders is only three, less than half of the previous all-time-low, which was seven films. Obviously, the closed cinemas make it impossible to create “cammed” versions of the films, but this is not the entire story. As people find these movies being offered on online platforms for a reasonable price, the interest towards pirating platforms wanes, and so does the incentive of the operators of these websites.

Source: TorrentFreak

Of course, cinemas will gradually reopen, and the question of what happens then remains. We may see a reversal of the trend, although it is highly unlikely that it’ll be a total one. Hopefully, filmmakers will take note of the piracy trends and will move to embrace streaming platforms more aggressively, completely eliminating release delays and leaving the old distribution model in the past.

It has been well-documented that the availability of affordable content from legal sources is the number one reason for not using pirating platforms and services, so there’s no question about the direction towards things need to move.

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