Apple TV+ struggles with burgeoning piracy threat

MacRumors has found that as the popularity of Apple TV+ grows, Apple looks to be struggling to deal with a burgeoning online piracy threat, despite concerted efforts to take down its stolen content.

Apple TV+

Hartley Charlton and Sami Fathi for MacRumors:

Apple largely avoided the need to combat online piracy until the launch of ‌Apple TV+‌ in November 2019. Since then, ‌Apple TV+‌ shows and movies have proliferated throughout piracy sites across the internet…

From MacRumors‘ findings, some of Apple’s most popular shows and movies have at least 2,000 active seeders on each major piracy site, going up to as many as approximately 125,000 seeders per title. Download trends broadly map to the popularity of Apple’s various shows and movies, with the likes of “Ted Lasso,” “The Morning Show,” and “SEE” garnering the most downloads.

According to information accessed by MacRumors, Corsearch has issued more than 320,000 DMCA orders to Google, citing copyright infringement for ‌Apple TV+‌ content. These orders only stop Google from indexing flagged piracy sites and do little to curtail the actual hosting of pirated content. Delist requests on Apple’s behalf reached an all-time high on August 16 this year, with more than 8,500 requests to Google in a single day.

MacRumors tracked numerous domains and URLs used to pirate ‌Apple TV+‌ content and found that none were taken down by Apple or its partners over the course of a week. On the contrary, during this period, the website’s catalog of stolen ‌Apple TV+‌ content grew, sometimes within just hours of new episodes being released on ‌Apple TV+‌ itself.

MacDailyNews Take: When you subscribe to a music service you have, for the most part, all of the world’s music for one simple, affordable price. Piracy is way, way down for music versus the early 2000s.

But, for video streaming, if you’d like to watch The Mandalorian, Ted Lasso, The Handmaid’s Tale, Star Trek: Picard, The Crown, etc. you need 5+ separate subscriptions that, when added up, cost too much. So many users subscribe to 1-3 streaming services and go the illegal route to watch the one show they want to watch from another service. Piracy will only increase while there are 20+ streaming services vying for whatever average monthly cost ($30-$40/month?) people are willing to pay for streaming services. Add in the cost of a monthly live TV / cloud DVR service like YouTube TV and you’re easily above what you used to pay for cable TV before you cut the cord.

Yes, it’s wrong to steal. Do not steal content. But, anyone can plainly see why piracy is up on streaming TV series: Too many services that, together, add up to too great a cost.

Maybe someday, we’ll have access to an “Apple TV” service that offers content the way “Apple Music” does, all-you-can-eat for an affordable price. That will quickly cure the piracy problem.

Until then, it’ll be whack-a-mole with torrent sites for Apple, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Showtime, etc., etc., etc.

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    1. Cutting the cord is surely better than not because then you can choose what you want. You don’t have to subscribe to all services simultaneously. Instead, you can cancel Netflix for a few months and do Apple TV+ instead. Unless you feel the need to be ‘current’ on many shows across multiple services, it’s possible to keep the subscription fees under control.

  1. What MDN is describing used to exist, and was called Netflix. The piracy problem only occured when all the other content providers pulled their content and tried to build their own services. Free market forces will tell you when your prices are too high, even if the law is meant to forbid such expression. This also applies to movies and series that are released in one country, but held back for months in others. Who else but pirates benefit from this?


    Much of the value of some programs comes from people talking with each other about the new episode they just saw. Months later, when you switch services, or the program becomes available in your country, the chat groups are all filled with spoilers and no one is excited about what you just saw. So the value of the programs are in many ways undermined. Companies end up strangling their own products with their greed, while empowering pirates.

    1. Tau,

      I totally agree with what you said. What’s also important is that anyone with a half a brain knew this was going to happen. When you divide the market into many smaller markets as a consumer you have a number of choices.

      The first is that you subscribe to all the services you need. But when the market is so fractured it becomes a very expensive option.

      The second option is to do without. Well, that’s not viable because there are places where you can get everything you want and that leads to the third option.

      The third option is to use torrents or usenet with a VPN and that’s because of the inherent greed of the content providers leads to altered consumer options.

      Frankly, I don’t blame consumers one bit for doing this. The media providers are treating consumers as cash cows to be milked over and over again and this is the logical outcome.

      In the short term what needs to be done is for deals between Apple, Netflix et alia to bundle new release shows from other companies which would then add value to the product and add value for consumers as well. This could be done through short term fixed contracts and the effect would be to lessen the attraction of piracy as the legal product would be worth more.

      I don’t think this will happen in the short term so we’ll have to let the market sort itself out. And while this happens piracy will continue to be a viable option.

      Apple, Netflix and others take note, this is what greed looks like and this is the result so don’t complain about it just fix the problem because a you created the right conditions for it all to happen.

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