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Witchdoctor wonders why Sky has declared war on pirates

How to become a millionaire? Own a pay TV company, but make sure you are a billionaire beforehand, says PAT PILCHER.

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Sky TV are going after pirates. They say they’ll start legal action against popular torrent tracker sites by the end of the year. According to Sky TV, research shows that 30 percent of New Zealand adults regularly pirate content and 10 percent do it on a weekly basis.

Sky say that a whopping 300,000 Kiwis regularly watch illegal content such as streamed sport. They have pulled this number out of research carried out by The Navigators earlier this year which surveyed 1,009 people aged 18 and over.

I’m always incredibly dubious of ‘studies’ claiming to put a definitive number on piracy, especially ones where the survey’s sample population is so microscopically tiny.

Either way, the ‘findings’ are interesting. Sky say that most respondents (81 per cent or around 817 people) said they pirated because the content they wanted was not available in New Zealand. Just under 70 per cent (an estimated 706 people) reported that they pirated content because they couldn’t afford to pay for it. So, on the say-so of just 1,009 respondents (or 0.0246 per cent of New Zealanders), Sky is making some bold claims.

Clearly, questions need to be asked.

I’m gobsmacked. While Sky TV talk up the evils of piracy, they conveniently forget to mention the growing number of Kiwis using legal alternatives to Sky (and piracy) such as Netflix, Amazon, Lightbox or other similar legal streaming services because they offer a better range of content at a more competitive price without all those really annoying adverts.

I’d wager that’s the real issue here. Most people I know don’t pirate. They don’t need to. In short, they have no interest in running afoul of New Zealand’s three strikes laws when they can get everything legitimately for much less than what they’d be paying for Sky TV.

Tiny surveys and a lack of other more appropriate questions aside, Sky needs to drop the bravado and simply get real. Shaking their fist and shouting about the evils of piracy just won’t change very much at all.

There are no torrent tracker sites in New Zealand, so Sky TVs ability to prosecute is limited. Even if they do find a way to go after torrent tracker sites or convince ISPs to block access to them, they’ll be onto a hiding to nowhere.

Similar moves failed utterly in the UK where circumvention techniques saw the UK government’s digital blockade become the online equivalent of the Maginot line. People bypassed it en masse and carried on as per usual. Even if an effective way of blocking access is developed that cannot easily be circumvented, torrents are not the only piracy game in town.

Putting it bluntly, using legal means to chase pirates will probably see Sky engaging in an unwinnable game of whack-a-mole while more viewers will simply migrate away to Netflix, Amazon and Lightbox. If I were a shareholder, I’d be pretty pissed off right about now.

Perhaps Sky would be better advised to spend their limited and shrinking resources on sorting out the confused mess that is their online streaming services and attempting to match Netflix/Amazon before they lose all their viewers.