Cost of living crisis 'sparks uptick in content piracy'

Data from UK-based digital piracy tracking company MUSO suggests that unlicensed use across all media sectors rose 25 per cent in the first six months of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021.

The figures come amid a cost of living crisis in the UK that is worse than at any time since the 1970s, according to MUSO's chief executive and co-founder Andy Chatterley. And when purse string gets tight "the first to go in the bonfire of the luxuries is always subscriptions," he writes in a blog post.

The impact already seems to be affecting the big streaming services, as Netflix has just reported just under one million lost subscribers – the first time its customer bases has contracted in its history – at the same time as it has raised monthly subscription prices and announced a clampdown on accounts with multiple users.

The downturn has also come on the back of proliferation of rival services to Netflix, fragmenting the market and forcing consumers to take out multiple subscriptions in order to watch popular shows.

"As economic historians have often observed, people turn to entertainment in a recession, which ensures that piracy is only set to increase," according to Chatterley. "In the immortal words of Jon Snow, winter is coming."

He points out that one service bucking the trend is Spotify, which added 2m listeners in the first quarter of this year, which goes some way to support the idea that "by agreeing to share an 'umbrella' platform for TV and film, providers might stem the flow of subscription cancellation."

Last week, MUSO was boosted by a $3.9m investment from Puma Private Equity, which according to the company will be used to build up its marketing capabilities and expand sales teams in the UK and US.

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