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Thread: Four-in-Ten Aussies Pirated Content in 2023, Overall Online Consumption Up 6%

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    Four-in-Ten Aussies Pirated Content in 2023, Overall Online Consumption Up 6%

    Since 2015, the Australian government has commissioned research to understand the level of online infringement and how that changes over time. The latest survey covering 2023 shows overall online content consumption, whether from legal or illegal sources, reached 78% of the population in 2023, up 6% on the previous year. Of those surveyed, however, 41% consumed content from illegal sources in 2023, up from 39% in the previous year.


    The Australian government has released the 2023 edition of its Consumer Survey on Online Copyright Infringement.

    Commissioned by the Attorney-General’s Department, the research aims to better understand internet users’ consumption habits, across five key content types – Television, Movies/Film, Music, Video Games, and Live Sport – and track changes in behavior over time.

    The 2023 survey was conducted online from June 27 to July 15 last year, and sought responses from Australian internet users (aged 12+) regarding their online content consumption habits over the previous three months (April to June 2023).

    Note: The term ‘Infringers’ refers to respondents who reported consuming any content in a way that was likely to be unlawful. The term ‘non-infringers’ refers to those who reported using methods likely to be lawful. Vertical dotted lines on charts indicate changes in methodology.


    Overall Online Consumption 2023

    Survey data for overall online content consumption in Australia means respondents’ consumption in total, regardless of whether the sources used were legal or illegal. In 2023, 78% of respondents said they consumed content online, up 6% from the 72% reported in 2022.

    Consumption of television content online reached 65% last year, an increase over the 60% reported for 2022. Consumption of movies showed a significant increase in 2023, 64% versus 57% reported for 2022.



    Music was also consumed by more Australians in 2023. A total of 54% said they listened via online sources, up from 48% and 45% in 2022 and 2021 respectively. Significant uplifts were also seen in the video gaming arena, with four-in-ten Aussies (40%) consuming online in 2023, versus 37% and 26% in 2022 and 2021 respectively.

    Online consumption of live sports events also saw an increase in 2023. Again, around four-in-ten Aussies (39%) said they’d watched live sports on the internet, up from 34% in 2022 and 26% in 2021.


    Consumption From Exclusively Lawful Sources

    Of all respondents who said they had consumed content online in 2023, 59% reported doing so from exclusively lawful sources. That’s slightly down on the 61% reported in 2022. Across individual content categories, fortunes were varied.

    Lawful consumption of music increased to 76% in 2023, up from 74% in 2022. For movies and film, the 72% reported for 2023 represents a slight downturn on the 74% reported in 2022.

    Levels for other content types either remained static or displayed a marginal decrease on the previous year: TV (77% in 2023, 78% in 2022), video games (74% in 2023, 74% in 2022), and live sports (75% in 2023, 74% in 2022).


    Top Methods of Consumption (Legal / Illegal)

    The top three lawful methods of consuming content online in 2023, plus any change from 2022, are reported as follows:

    1. Streaming via a paid for subscription service – 75% (no change)
    2. Live free-to-air or catch-up TV services – 54% (no change)
    3. A free version or a free tier of a video/music streaming service – 44% (+3%)

    The top three unlawful methods of consuming content are reported as follows:

    1. Subscription services through a shared /unknown account – 15% (-1%)
    2. Using a link to download/stream made available by someone else – 11% (no change)
    3. Ripping from YouTube/other sites using apps or an online service – 11% (+2%)


    Infringer Profile

    The 2023 survey found that 41% of respondents had consumed at least some content online in the previous three months, in ways that were likely to be unlawful. Up marginally from the 39% reported in 2022, there seems no major reason for panic. That being said, for rightsholders the figure is still headed in the wrong direction.

    On average since 2020, six out of ten infringers are still male, although data from 2023 shows that 43% of infringers were female, up 5 points on 2022 and their largest share to date.

    In common with studies conducted elsewhere in the world, most infringers can be found in the 25-34 year-old group, with just 9% and 18% in the 12-15 and 55 years+ groups respectively.

    “Compared to non-infringers, infringers were more likely to be younger (aged 12-34), and working full-time or studying,” the survey notes.

    Of the respondents who said they were in full-time employment, 42% were identified as infringers compared to just 35% of non-infringers. The researchers note that “no meaningful difference in household income was found in 2023.”


    Online Music and Movie Consumption

    The slides below the show the fortunes of music and movies since 2015. Over the eight-year period, the number of respondents who consume from unlawful sources has noticeably improved.

    For music, the 37% reported in 2015 reduced to 24% in 2023, with 76% of all consumers exclusively utilizing lawful sources.



    For movies and film, the results are even more impressive: from 49% in 2015 to just 28% last year, albeit with some earlier gains apparently lost during more recent years.

    Nevertheless, 72% of consumers relying exclusively on legal sources is not a bad result; the remaining 28% are not exclusive users of pirate sources, they simply used a pirate source once or more in the previous three months.



    At this point it’s worth mentioning that 2015 was an important year for movie and TV show fans in Australia.

    Having been massively underserved by international entertainment companies, with late movie releases and at times completely ignored with no releases at all, in March 2015 Netflix arrived in Australia. Unofficial reports indicated that 1.4 million Aussies signed up to Netflix in the first few months after launch.


    TV, Video Games and Live Sports

    Looking at the positives, 77% of TV show consumers accessed content from entirely legal sources in 2023; that’s a better result than those on display for music and movies. Furthermore, from 33% of consumers obtaining at least some content illegally in 2015, the figure is now roughly a third lower, 23% in 2023.


    For the final two categories, the positives are more difficult to find. Video game pirates are most prevalent in the 12 to 24 year-old category with a headline rate of 40%. While gamers under 16 are less likely to have the kind of disposable income today’s AAA titles demand, there’s not much to celebrate among those with more resources.

    Overall, 54% of those who obtain games from unlawful sources are employed, which might suggest that even when gamers have the money, they aren’t necessarily prepared to spend it on every new release.
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    The top three unlawful methods of consuming video game content in 2023 are reported as follows:

    1. Downloading mod versions of mobile games for free – 9% (No change vs 2022)
    2. Paying a small fee for account or subscription sharing – 9% (-2%)
    3. Downloading emulator versions of older games – 5% (+1%)

    Consumption of live sports is a relative newcomer to Australia’s annual survey. Overall, 39% of respondents consumed live sports online in 2023, with 75% doing so from entirely legal sources and an estimated 25% using sources likely to be illegal.

    The chart below is provided for reference purposes but should only be considered informative after 2020. In broad terms, a quarter of Australians streaming some live sports illegally sounds roughly on par with comparable regions elsewhere.



    The top three unlawful methods of consuming live sports content in 2023 are reported as follows:

    1. Free streaming websites – 7% (No change vs 2022)
    2. Free apps/services – 7% (no change)
    3. User broadcasts on YouTube or social media platforms – 7% (+1%)

    When considered as a whole, the results of the 2023 report offer something for everyone. Progress in the fight against piracy is a conclusion easily drawn from the large pool of information made available. Equally, showing the complete opposite wouldn’t be too difficult either. We will report on issues related to blocking and circumvention in due course.
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