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After ABC’s cord-cutting block, pirate downloads shoots up 300%

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ABC may have pulled the plug on cord-cutters by imposing an eight-day delay on non-cable or Hulu subscribers, but the audience may be having the last laugh: according to Tru Optik, the ABC decision has spiked downloads using the open-source BitTorrent protocol, which includes downloads from sites like PirateBay, by 300 percent.

ABC_InfographicTru Optik bases the crux of its argument on a single show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Despite the fact that the show has middling ratings, according to Nielsen, the Joss Whedon-helmed action show is now the fourth most illegally downloaded show in the world. In addition, the show’s download rate spiked after ABC restricting episodes to cable customers and Hulu Plus subscribers. The numbers tell quite a dramatic story, one of the rebellion by those who have already eschewed traditional cable acquiring the shows they want to watch by any means possible.

However, it is only one show, so there’s nothing crystal clear about cord-cutters’ spite for ABC. There may be a clearer indication of the affect cord-cutters are having on pirate sites once it gets closer to sweeps and season finales — it might just be too early to tell, however poetic the story may be.

17 Responses to “After ABC’s cord-cutting block, pirate downloads shoots up 300%”

  1. @jerome… The issue of eight days is as an OTA viewer is if you are to miss an episode of a serialized show you are immediately out if the loop with no catch up resource. Why not 6 days… and next day for cable subscribers? It just shows they are out of touch.

    @ bob… You don’t seem to get how out of touch you are of a changing dynamic. We saw this in the music industry (and sorry “colucci” iTunes wasn’t the answer to that issue either”). What happened in the music industry is the unnessesary people were pushed out and salaries were normalized by supply and demand. This is what will happen in entertainment as well. In music you see record execs and such dwindle while skilled positions like sound engineers are on a rise… Because it’s is easier to distribute content, and the need of the middleman fleecing thier pockets has evaporated. With movie and tv the content is becoming more global and we will see changes in the paradigm of delivery, production, viewing, and production cost.

    The health care bob speaks of is a tiny share, first, performers insurance is from the union, so that leaves it for the lowest paid skilled labor and the higher paid execs. Who is more expendable the four cameramen on a four camera show, or the three executive producers, three producers, four associate producers, etc. Additionaly production companies will look to less experienced actors that can be had for 10% of their big name counterparts, and shows will have to stand on quality.

    Just like the music industry, it will be a rough transition and the powers that be will hold on tight, but the free market will level.

  2. “…ABCs brutal restriction of next day online episodes to pay TV subscribers…”

    A bit of hyperbole, anyone? Having to wait a full week (!) to watch a show online is a first world problem, indeed….

  3. R. Colucci

    One of the major problems with the ABC decision is that many cable subscribers cannot use the ABCAPP because ABC does not have an agreement with cable company. So, users who now pay for cable (and SHOULD be able to log in) would have to also pay for HULUPlus, in essence, paying twice to be able to access portability via tablets and smartphones. If you go to the app on iTunes, you will see a lot of complaining about this in the remarks section. Of course, ABC keeps doing stupid updates to the app to wipe out all of the negative comments on iTunes. Sad. It used to be a great app.

  4. It’s a sad world if people’s first instinct is to steal instead of pay a fair price for a product. ANd it’s sad that this blog would in any way offer any support by questioning ABC’s decision. Tell us Lauren how you expect ABC to pay for health care or salaries by giving away their product for free?

    • Gee Bob you do know about advertising right? I believe you watch ads during the show on their site, I think? I am guessing though because I just went there and I can’t verify my provider, I guess they don’t recognize Time Warner cable.

    • Imabe Dashite

      Bob. I think your missing the point. No one is promoting piracy, but ABC was making money from the commercials when people streamed the shows for free. Now they will make much less. Any decision that causes a company to lose revenue overnight is worth questioning. Maybe ABC knew this would happen and it’s all a ploy to get people to want their streaming content even more, and they will turn it back on and double their viewers and revenue in the long term. Who knows.

    • Taylor Trask

      Bob, what exactly is the benefit to ABC suddenly windowing OTA content? Clearly the decision has caused a loss in revenue for the company so how are they expected to pay your salaries/etc now?

  5. Imabe Dashite

    I read the original Tru Optik post linked in the article and it says every single ABC show saw a piracy increase, not just SHIELD. Although SHIELD was a ridiculous jump.

  6. Sonya A. Willis

    So let’s recap. Likely a majority of those eyeballs LEGALLY watched the shows on Hulu/ABC over the next few days. Now because of this backward policy, those eyeballs have shifted towards “alternative viewing methods” depriving Hulu/ABC/advertisers much needed revenue.

    Who didn’t see this coming?

    • Sorry Sonya. Companies that want to pay salaries and cover health care need to charge something for their product. Only wackjobs believe that the “alternative viewing methods” are sustainable because everything can’t be free.

      • agentofn0thing

        While I can see this argument making sense if it were a cable network such as AMC, FX, Sci Fi (I refuse to call it by its current designation), or HBO, which are unavailable without a cable subscription. This is broadcast television, available for free to anyone with a pair of rabbit ears.

      • Sonya A. Willis

        Bobby Bobby Bobby, these are OTA shows paid for by advertising to begin with. The Internet is not going away. Reports already show that when people have legal viewing/listening methods, piracy goes down. Alt. viewing has shot up again.

        The better way to deal with online viewing is targeted advertising. The advertisers get better quality eyeballs and the networks can charge more money. Win-win-win all the way around but this means changing the business model. Trying to control how and when viewers watch shows doesn’t work anymore so move forward and take advantage of targeted viewing and advertising.

        • Sorry Sonya, but OTA shows suck compared to pay TV. They’re almost all mindless reality shows because the OTA market can’t even afford writers. Advertising pays little and it really starts to fail when the market starts splitting up with so many channels.

          And unless you’ve been paying attention, targeted advertising hasn’t really been working in the news business. The web sites are going out of business and the wonderful targeted ads pay less and less per thousand. How much are you getting paid? How many more link-baity articles are you writing? Do you think you can compete with BuzzFeed where they just pirate the photos and write a few headlines? Get real. BuzzFeed is going to chew your business to bits because the advertisers, no matter how targeted, could care less whether you spent ten seconds or ten years on your writing. The same goes for TV.

          And could you pay attention to the technology? Forcing people to pay for what they consume is not the same thing as forcing them to watch at a particular day and time. That hasn’t been the case for 30+ years. Yet you continue to prattle on, defending the pirates who take, take and take some more.

          • Taylor Trask

            “Sorry Sonya, but OTA shows suck compared to pay TV. They’re almost all mindless reality shows because the OTA market can’t even afford writers.”

            You do realize that Agents of SHIELD and EVERY ABC show is an OTA show don’t you?

        • Yeah, and when I watch “agents of SHIELD” on the ABC app, there are ads that play. which are a lot easier to track, a lot easier to sell as their impact is shown to be higher than TV ads and are not skippable like DVR, etc. This is stupidity by ABC because not everyone has cable. I’m an OTA viewer, and I get penalized mid season? really!? I’m not buying cable. ever. But I’m now punished, a fan of the show, because of…what? they can’t let us use THEIR app to stream THEIR show on demand, which is infinitely easier to track than “ratings”. Stupid.

      • Jamie Herbert

        but that’s the point Bob, people will pay customers for ease of use it’s been proven time and again, iTunes flourished as Napster died because it is easy and a great price and less hassle. The Tabletop RPG industry went through a similar thing TSR, makers of Dungeons and Dragons used to make quite a bit of money selling all their old back catalog for $5.00 a pop on PDF. This was products that were not available in stores and that other than server space cost them nothing to sell, as they had been produced and any money made off of them or written off some time ago. But the new regime fearful of piracy pulled the program, and guess what happened? Yep everyone went back to pirating people want easy and cheap, companies want the most money for least work. and often times both do stupid things to get their way when a happy medium could more easily be met.