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Not everyone who watches a pirated movie is a committed bootlegger, a new study finds.
The majority of consumers who watch pirated films — some 94 percent — say they also buy legitimate copies. Those who only occasionally watch unauthorized versions of movies, or stream them because it’s convenient, can be most readily coaxed to pay, the study found.
Occasional and convenience streamers account for about one-third of unauthorized viewing. These consumers say they prefer to watch a legitimate copy of a film, but they’ll watch the black-market version when the opportunity presents itself or when their subscription services don’t have the title they’re seeking.
About two-thirds of these consumers say they won’t spend more than a few minutes to find an alternative when their initial access to a pirated movie is blocked. Instead, about 40 percent of these would-be pirates have sought out a mainstream source, such as a movie rental service or a theater.
The findings were based on the online responses of 1,070 people, and interviews with 24 people, all of whom had attempted to watch a pirated movie in the past three months.
To be sure, not everyone surveyed was as easily converted.
A sizable group of movie buffs, dubbed the “no big deals,” have been watching pirated movies most of their lives, and see no harm in continuing to do so. Another segment, the “content enthusiasts,” love movies — but don’t have enough discretionary income to pay for all the movies they want to watch. Similarly, the “cost sensitives” view piracy as a cheap form of entertainment.
About one in six Americans age 13 and older actively consume pirated movies, watching an average of 23 unauthorized films a year.
L.E.K. Consulting conducted the survey on behalf of Verance Corporation, a San Diego company whose technology can be used to identify pirated films and redirect viewers to legitimate sources to rent or purchase a movie.