CBS blackout leads to piracy spike

While Big Content claims that thieving pirates do so for fun and profit, an interesting look into the psychology of P2P took place in the US that suggests an alternative theory. Simply put, people pirate when the content is otherwise unavailable.

Since Friday, more than three million Time Warner customers throughout the United States lost access to CBS programming. According to Torrent Freak, the percentage of unauthorised downloads from affected regions rose pretty dramatically.

The piracy rates of the popular show “Under The Dome” shot up 34 percent over the weekend, while official ratings fell.

This means that one of the main reasons people pirate material is availability. If they cannot get the content they want in the format they want it, when they want it, they will pirate it.

Take Game of Thrones – network quibbling about regional rights meant many international audiences just torrented the show instead.

CBS blacked out in some regions when Time Warner Cable dropped the former, after the companies failed to reach a broadcasting agreement.

Under The Dome is one of the most pirated TV shows at the moment with 10.9 percent of downloaders coming from the blackout regions. But this increased to 14.6 percent for Monday’s episode.

New York saw its relative piracy rate more than double, from 1.3 percent of all US downloads to three percent for the episode that aired after the blackout.

While piracy spiked official ratings took a large hit. Under The Dome fell to a season low, with only 10.49 million viewers compared to 11.41 million the week before.

Once again it appears that while Time Warner and CBS are having a spat with each other, they are losing legitimate customers to piracy.

The blame then is not on P2P and piracy generally, but because customers do not want to wait for Big Content to stop playing silly buggers.