New Survey: Most Millennials Both Pay For Streaming Services And Use Pirate Streams When Content Isn't Legally Available

from the fulfilling-customer-demands dept

For any of the entrenched entertainment players seated comfortably in their lofty offices, quite used to counting stacks of money and calling it a profession, they likely already know this fearful mantra: the millennials are coming. Millennials, and even more so the generations younger than them, are driving changes in the entertainment industry. These younger consumers are largely responsible for the cord-cutting trend winding its way through the cable industry, not to mention being the force behind ever-expanding streaming options for everything from movies to television shows and live sports. These are the customers of the future. Customers that will outlive a public that became used to having bloated cable television packages filled with channels and content fit to be ignored.

And those customers are both great customers for streaming services and they are customers perfectly happy to get the streaming they want if legitimate methods for it aren’t available. A recent survey conducted specifically with millennials finds that more than half of them regularly use pirate streaming sites to watch movies or shows, but would prefer to use legitimate streaming sites had they been available.

This is one of the main conclusions of a new survey conducted by Launchleap. The data come from a survey among millennials between 18 and 35, and zooms in on pirate streaming preferences in this age group. The results show that more than half of the respondents, a whopping 53%, admit to having used illegal services to stream movies or TV-shows over the past month. Legal streaming services remain on top with 70%, but interest in more traditional platforms such as TV, DVDs or Blu-Ray is clearly lagging behind. The respondents don’t appear to be particularly bothered by their habit. Only 7% of the people questioned say they feel guilty when they watch a pirated movie, the remaining 93% experience no guilt.

You can disagree with the moral calculation of these young people all you like, but the numbers here are both stark and illuminating. If nothing else, this survey should signal to the entertainment industry that however many days are left of customers being willing to live in walled off gardens where content is enjoyed only in the manner approved by a cable company or movie studio, rather than being determined by consumer demand, that number of days is on a short timeline. It’s also worth noting that the respondents that said they used pirate streaming sites also paid for content via subscriptions to Netflix and the like. The issue is that there is both a content war currently, with movies and shows available only on one streaming site at a time, as well as the long-entrenched protectionism that has kept some content off of any streaming site at all. The attitude of these respondents seems pretty clear by the numbers: hey, we tried to pay for the content, but you wouldn’t let us, so we went and got it from a place that had it.

Money is still a factor in the survey, of course. After all, consumers could get most of the content they demand legitimately by subscribing to, say, three or four different streaming sites at once and switching between them. But that doesn’t change the fact that television and movie studios are going to have to contend with the reality that the public doesn’t want to, or can’t afford to, do that. The question then becomes whether these exclusive streaming deals and content protection continue to be good business, given that these younger customers are finding illegitimate ways around them anyway.

The millennials are coming. And they don’t think about entertainment content in the same complacent way the last generation has.

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Comments on “New Survey: Most Millennials Both Pay For Streaming Services And Use Pirate Streams When Content Isn't Legally Available”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

"Get the stick!"

The respondents don’t appear to be particularly bothered by their habit. Only 7% of the people questioned say they feel guilty when they watch a pirated movie, the remaining 93% experience no guilt.

Clearly the only possible response is more education, and by that I mean more threats, harsher laws, and bigger punishments. Obviously the only reason those heinous criminals don’t feel guilty is because they don’t know about how you can be slapped with fines large enough to buy a house if someone really has it out for you, due to the fact that a single instance of copyright infringement causes demonstrable, measurable harm in the thousands if not more to the economy.

If they knew about the life-ruining consequences and the quadrillions of damages to the economy that copyright infringement causes on a daily basis I’m sure they’d go right back to jumping through the numerous hoops to get all their content the legal way like a good little citizen.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: "Get the stick!"

I’m envisioning two convicts riding a prison bus, both shackled to the seat they’re in, sometime in the 2020s…

Prisoner A: So, I got convicted of 143 counts of first degree murder, 293 counts of rape, and 47 counts of cannibalism. I’ll be in prison for the next 800 years. I notice your shackles are twice as heavy as mine. What did you DO?!?

Prisoner B: I illegally streamed two movies and the Oscars.

RacerX says:

Re: "Get the stick!"

That’s the only possible response…. Unless- unless content providers begin to realize that there’s TOO MUCH ADVERTISING, their salaries ARE TOO HIGH, the content makers AREN’T GETTING ENOUGH. The days when they get to jam as many pharma ads in our faces as they want are over, and they need to remake their model or the piracy will take over. Over are the days when they can throw at us the junk saccharin flavor of the month movie, meanwhile the good movies somehow stay unavailable. Less advertising, better access. Until then- Long Live the Pirates……

TheResidentSkeptic says:

People are just out of control!

They just don’t sit down during prime-time viewing hours to view the “Must watch TV” like they are supposed to.

And they don’t subscribe to and read the morning newspaper either!

These damn kids just don’t understand how the industries need them to behave. How dare they change the way they live their lives!

You’d think they were in control or something.

Ian Moriarty says:

Today in other news: Survey finds that water is wet.

This news is nearly twenty years old. The original pirates now have children, and are perfectly content to hand down the lesson that if you can’t pay for what you want, then other means are acceptable.

Let me pay for the content, let me own it, and leave me alone. It’s really not that hard.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

These people can whine about education all they want, but no one is buying their lies.

What makes the ‘We must educate the public’ mantra extra funny is that they benefit from a lack of an educated public in maintaining what ‘respect’ for the law people may have.

When people see copyright as focused on ‘protecting creators’ and difficult to violate such that you have to go out of your way to do so, then they’re more likely to respect it and consider it good, and see violations as a serious problem.

Inform people that the ones talking about ‘education’ tend to be affiliated with if not actually members of groups that screw over artists at every opportunity, that it’s absolutely trivial to engage in copyright infringement such that pretty much everyone has done so at some point whether they know it or not, that the possible penalties for doing so are completely and utterly insane, that copyright is for all intents and purposes eternal

‘Education’ is a problem, but not as they seem to think it is, as I believe that the less educated people are on the law the more likely they are to support it, whereas if people knew what an absolute mess it really is they’d likely be all the more against it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hell some of these executives have even been affiliated with actual criminal enterprises.
A big hurdle is that a lot of artists still think the current copyright system (at least in the US) actually protects them. Up to the point when they find out it doesn’t (and hasn’t in over a decade).
Don’t forget that Youtube’s much abused ContentID system was created as a response to lawsuits and legal threats made by huge corporations, not small artists.

Ninja (profile) says:

It’s kind of funny if you think about it. The phrase “The millennials are coming” is currently being received by the MAFIAA with terror when it should be received with delight. They can get more money by offering it to more people at a time but they are stuck wanting to get awesome profits per unit. This is obviously going to fail in the long term when you consider digital goods.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Guilt?

But no, instead they attempted to starve Netflix out by jacking up the licensing prices on almost everything. So, Netflix, instead of spending an insane price to license everything decided to take all that money they would have been spending on licensing things and used it to pay for it’s own original shows. And to millennials, those are GOOD shows.

And now I find myself watching pretty much only Netflix, not just because it’s so much more equitable, but because they have far better content that is their own. I mostly don’t pirate anything because there’s not much that’s not on Netflix or Amazon Prime that I’d even want to watch even if it were free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Guilt?

One of these days they are going to look at Netflix studios and the content Netflix will own and ask themselves how this new player became the biggest on the block. When they have the realization that they themselves forged this powerhouse of competitor certainly will be fun to watch. Their best move would be to pivot strategies now but I doubt they have the foresight.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

The cable companies are adapting much like the music publishers “adapted”; with awful, short-lived online services of their own.

Here in Canada, Rogers was pushing their “Shomi” streaming service bundled with their other services.

The promise: “We’ve got Top Gear!”

The reality: The newest episodes were six years old.

More reality: The service quickly shut down. But you still have to pay for it for another 18 months via the two-year contract on those other services.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

BTW, the new season of Top Gear – which wrapped up last night – was pretty good. I have it on my hard drive, through means that Rogers and the BBC likely wouldn’t approve of.

It’s not a case of "hey, we tried to pay for the content, but you wouldn’t let us, so we went and got it from a place that had it." It’s "hey, I PAID for the content. And I’m still paying for it. So I went and got it from a place that had it."

Avatar28 (profile) says:

It’s hardly just the Millennials. We subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime and now Hulu. There have been several instances where we wanted to watch a particular movie. I searched for it on all three services as well as Comcast’s OnDemand library. All I found were options to buy it for close to $20. In one case I went and bought a (used) copy of the 20+ year old movie off Amazon for $4 shipped. Guess who didn’t see a penny of it? For other movies I’ve searched, given up and went to the Pirate Bay for it. I really did try to do it legit but when four different streaming services don’t have it then, eh, whatever. I’m not paying $20 for a movie I will watch exactly one time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's not just the Millenials

Indeed. Today’s millennials are the children of the kids who had to sit through “Home Taping is Killing Music”. It’s not one generation corporate gatekeepers have to contend with, but two.

Actually, considering how often gatekeepers end up suing grandparents for downloading content they never knew existed, it’s really three generations.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Streaming is still poor quality compared to a Blu Ray.

Yes, I know. That’s why I buy Blu-Rays.

There are plenty of ripping tools out there.

I don’t want to rip them; a collection of 1080p movies with 5.1 audio take up more hard drive space than I’m interested in using. I could compress them, but that would defeat the purpose of buying Blu-Rays. I want to be able to put a disc in my drive and play it.

Here are the resources I’ve been using:
BluRay playback and ripping on Fedora (AACS, BD+, BD-J) — so far I’m just using the open-source tools; I haven’t given MakeMKV a try yet.


VukExtract relies on DVDfab running under WINE. I couldn’t get the current version of DVDfab to run, so I downloaded DVDfab v9 at

The good news is that most of my discs worked fine out of the box with the keys available at labDV, and, of the ones that didn’t, I got some working using VukExtract. The bad news is, a couple wouldn’t play even after I ran VukExtract, and some had graphical glitches. I’m going to look into alternate players for the ones I’ve had trouble with (give mplayer a shot), and if that still doesn’t work I might try the makemkv method.

tracyanne says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Streaming actually isn’t a serious consideration for me, my “Broadband” connection is way too slow, As a consequence I really only have 2 choices, purchase DVDs when they are available, or Download via Torrent.

720p is sufficient quality for me, if the story is any good it will be good at 720p. So ripping and compressing for storage on HDD is a good solution. Of course Torrenting works well too, and 720p usually uses less bandwidth.

I just wish more people would make stuff available at the lower quality.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Now there’s a market that would do well – HD movies h.264 compressed to fit on DVDs at either 1920×1080 or 1280×720. I’ve had very poor luck with BDs. The drives I got for my PC went bad after a few months (both of them), my PS3 doesn’t always “like” a BD and playback skips while the fan cranks up to vacuum cleaner levels, and I’ve gone through three stand-alone players. Never had a problem ever with any DVD drives I’ve had in any device.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Now there’s a market that would do well – HD movies h.264 compressed to fit on DVDs at either 1920×1080 or 1280×720.

We have that already, just not in the form of a market. All of the movies I have fit on a DVD, most on a single-layer DVD. The h.265 ones that have been appearing over the last year are even better quality for the size.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Neil Gaiman had a pretty great essay about how he initially took great offense at piracy but, over time, realized that people were using it to read his books in countries where they weren’t available through any other means, and that among other benefits he could use this information to make a case to publishers in those countries that there was a market for his work there.

I believe the essay is published as a foreword to Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, and also in Gaiman’s own essay collection View from the Cheap Seats.

tracyanne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’ve tried the Piblic Library, they have bugger all to choose from.

Never heard of Redbox, but a quick search reveals “Stream movies on-demand, no subscriptions needed.”… Stramimng isn’t an option for me

But speaking of Rentals, all the old school Movie rental outlets seem to be closing down, due, no doubt, because of competition from Streaming services.

Yep do the lending from friends this too, then rip the movies to HDD.

I also search Farmers markets for “pre loved” copies.

So for most stuff there’s purchases and Bittorrent. Many movies, and TV series, are not available, especially older ones, for purchase, due to artificial scarcity, where the gatekeepers stop producing them.

It would actually be so easy to enable the retail stores to simply burn copies of older stuff, but no we have to have fancy packaging in and limited runs to keep the prices higher.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I suspect he was referring to Redbox kiosks where you can rent physical discs, not Redbox’s streaming service. I live in the Phoenix area and there are a lot of grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, etc. that have Redbox machines upfront; it may be worth checking the Redbox website to see if there are any in your area, though if you’ve never heard of them before then it’s quite possible there aren’t any where you are.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I don’t know what you expected trying to watch a DRM encumbered disk on a hobbyist OS.

When I bought a Blu-Ray drive, I expected I would continue to run Windows on my HTPC, Mr. Coward. I did not expect that the next version of Windows would be a glorified piece of spyware that bundled popup ads and installed on users’ computers after they told it not to. I further did not expect that the next time I bought a new computer, Microsoft would disable Windows Update if I installed Windows 7 or 8 on it.

But yeah, clearly I’m the guy to blame for the problems I’m having. It’s not the MPAA’s fault for pushing an encryption standard that’s easier to pirate than to play, it’s my fault for being stupid enough to legally purchase Blu-Ray discs and a Blu-Ray drive and expecting them to work.

Out of curiosity, do you consider the Mac OS to be "a hobbyist OS" too? Because even the commercial Blu-Ray player apps for Mac OS have many of the same disc compatibility issues as VLC.

tracyanne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I keep copy of Windows 10 on a VM (it was the free version released to Windows Insider Program members, which I joined so I could have a legal copy of Windows without paying for it), it never connects to the Internet, so spying by Microsoft isn’t an issue, and I don’t care about updates… it never connects to the Internet, so I’m not worried about security issues (any problems that might be caused by shonky software are easily fixed by restoring the VM from backup).

I keep it around just in case I need Windows for anything where the Corporate gatekeepers have made life difficult for us Linux users, so far I haven’t had any real issues, since I don’t bother with BluRay. An issue with an update of the Linux version of MakeMKV caused a temporary need for the Windows version, and that’s about it.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Servers and supercomputers aren’t generally used for playing Blu-Rays, though. I’ll grant that, on the desktop, GNU/Linux is a niche OS.

My point, though, is so fucking what? My dollar is worth just as much as a Windows user’s dollar. I’m a paying customer. Making it more difficult for me to play movies that I have legally purchased is not a good move on the MPAA’s part, because it makes me less likely to buy Blu-Rays in the future. Meanwhile, it’s done fuck-all to prevent piracy; as noted, I could pirate these moves and pay nothing for them, easily, and have a much better user experience than the one I am having as a paying customer.

Though I’m sure "DRM doesn’t stop piracy, it only inconveniences legitimate users" is not exactly a new argument to anybody who’s reading Techdirt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Some parts of the world have no data caps, and DSL more than good enough for video streaming. I could stream 1080P 24/7 if I wanted to, with bandwidth to spare software updates. I find all my video entertainment on YouTube, which means no DRM hassles on my Linux Boxes. 30GB is about my evening consumption.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

At a relatively low bitrate.

50-megabit DSL is readily available these days, inexpensively, at least in some areas. Specifications for some hundreds of megabits exist. Wikipedia says BDs have "a maximum AV bitrate of 48 Mbit/s". Of course, streaming video can use better codecs (H.265 or better H.264 profiles).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

It’s not a problem with bandwidth, streaming content providers (even 4k) limit the quality of their streams for economic reasons. Streaming services want to use as few bits to transmit to as many subscribers as possible. Cable companies do the same thing by degrading their service.

In terms of technical quality the best sources are digital TV broadcasts (over the air) and physical media.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well if you're going to be punished anyway...

The funny thing is, whether ripping legally purchased movies or downloading them, Thad would be breaking the law either way so long as the blu-rays had any form of DRM infecting them.

Download a movie without paying for it = Breaking the law.

Ripping a legally purchased movie so that you can watch it how you want and/or make a back-up copy = Also breaking the law.

People that try to operate within the law have to deal with numerous obstacles and annoyances, things that those that go straight to the infringement option don’t have to deal with, and if they try to mitigate those obstacles and annoyances they’re breaking the law anyway.

I can only imagine how many people facing that sort of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ issue have decided to skip the ‘pay for content’ step entirely, since if they want it on their terms they’ll be breaking the law regardless, and the latter option is cheaper and involves less hassle.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Well if you're going to be punished anyway...

Note he is ripping so he actually can watch it with his equipment. He’s being blocked from watching legally purchased blu-rays in his legally owned equipment. And the MAFIAA and their minions wonder why people gave them the middle finger and went piracy. I’ve never bought a blu-ray and never will exactly because of this kind of bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well if you're going to be punished anyway...

He’s being blocked from watching legally purchased blu-rays in his legally owned equipment.

And is giving the MAFIAA the funding to block him.

Personally, the idea of loading stuff from a disc is just so inconvenient. With under $1000 in hard drives I can be watching any movie 10 seconds from when I think about it.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Well if you're going to be punished anyway...

And is giving the MAFIAA the funding to block him.

That’s a fair criticism and one I’ll definitely keep in mind the next time I’m interested in buying a disc.

On the other hand, I’m adding all the keys I extract to labDV, so I’m also actively helping to make the process less painful for other users.

Avatar28 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh my god, this. I have a bluray drive on my PC. I tried watching a movie on it, it said it required updates to the bluray software. I went to update it and the version I need to upgrade to is a free upgrade but I can’t update to because it was an OEM version (the computer OEM doesn’t provide an update). So, basically, they updated the features on the Blu-ray disc that broke the software and required updates on it. I wasn’t about to pay $70 just to watch the bluray I legally owned. So I said screw it and downloaded the best one I could find and seeded the shit out of it.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

But they’ll try to make that more difficult

So? They’ve been trying to make it more difficult for twenty years now; where’s it gotten them?

They can try all they want; it’s not going to get harder for people to copy ones and zeroes from one computer to another.

and you’re giving them the funding to do so.

This is a fair criticism, and, as I said above, something to keep in mind the next time I consider buying a movie.

But I subscribe to Netflix even though it uses DRM, I just bought a Kabylake processor even though it’s got DRM built right into the firmware, and I’ve made any number of other compromises to purchase things that I enjoy despite having serious qualms with some of the ethics underpinning them. These are choices we all make, all the time, and unless you want to go full Richard Stallman and use a Thinkpad x60 with completely free software (and not watch TV or movies at all), you’re supporting unethical DRM somewhere along the line.

I’ve just taken a step away from unethical companies by opting to keep Windows off my new computer. Maybe I’ll take another step away and quit buying Blu-Rays. But I’ll probably keep Netflix. And I intend to keep the Blu-Rays I own, figure out how to play them, and share that information with other people in the same boat I am.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’ve heard makemkv works and there’s a ppa for ubuntu.

Unless you really need to watch on a specialized device, It’s probably less of a hassle to buy a blu ray player, don’t connect it to the internet, and hook it up to a display though since they’re much less expensive these days. Buying used players and discs also helps to give less financial support to the DRM companies.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Convenience and Permanence

I subscribe to a few streaming services, but I still pirate TV shows, for a number of reasons. For example, I pay for Comcast’s Xfinity tv thing, and I can stream current shows through that. I don’t, though, because of the atrocious player, and pointless 24 hour delays for streaming availability. I’ll watch shows on Netflix or Crunchyroll, but I’ll still download pirated copies because items from their catalog will be pulled without warning.

I would gladly, gladly pay ~$50/mo for a service that offers me the same convenience, reliability, and permanence as pirating does. It just doesn’t exist.

ECA (profile) says:


LEts ask something..
HOW many OLD movies Black and White, HAVE the younger generation WATCHED??
Goto Youtube, Search for Public domain..

For SOME reason the Corps keep hiding WHAT SHOULD BE in the public domain..
They use ALL their media, as MONEY and TRADE..
THEY choose what you WATCH..What is released..

Anyone see an Independent or Even a Corp channel Run LOTS of public domain?? there are only 2-3 that run OLD movies..
OLD series, Old movies, OLD everything…AND they SHOULD NOT be paying to SHOW public domain programming..

It also gives you a LOOK at the Rating system..THEIR WASNT ONE…and the MOVIE CODES werent around EITHER..

What I LOVE, is finding the First issue of a Movie that was CREATED in SILENT and B&W.. They have been REhashing shows FOR YEARS…and 90% of the time, its BOOKS that were NOT Copy written.. HARDLY ever did they do Current Books or Stories..(and STILL they dont) OR they do the story and Change a few things and Call it a NEW INTERPRETATION..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DUH!!

A major reason why many movies that should be in the public domain are not available is that the Studios let the only copies available to away in their vaults. That is because they are not interested in keeping lots of movies available, but rather in only having a few new ones on the market at any time, so as to maximize the audience and the profits.

Rekrul says:

Way back in 2001, I missed the third episode of the Fox anthology series Night Visions. I completely forgot that it was on. It was years before I found someone who had recorded it and when I borrowed the tape, the image was horrible.

Now the internet is like the world’s best DVR. Most of the time I don’t even bother watching shows when they air, I just grab the copies off the net later than night or the next day and watch them when I feel like it.

THustmyre (profile) says:

I have all streaming services

Like the title says I have almost everything, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO. I’m still forced to go online and watch streams of some of the shows I like because they refuse to bring them to the streaming services.
The only benefit to cable is that is has shows that aren’t available to stream and that’s a problem the companies can fix on their own by just adding them to the freaking streaming services!

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