Wednesday, October 17, 2007

PINAC : Business Stats

As part of an ongoing update, I am reprinting old pieces of mine here as well. This piece originally appeared here on in Late 2004, and referenced the top of this no-longer published page on

A Problem for Business

Every weekend, 7,000 open markets in the UK trade in pirate videos and DVDs.

Every weekend, eh. Exactly 7,000? Is that based on examination of every open market in the UK? More likely that's a figure extrapolated from a small sample area; or, in simple-speak, they scaled up a small area to the size of the UK and rounded. It’s a made up number. There isn't even an 'approximately' there.

Seizures of pirate DVDs increased by a massive 405% from 2002 to 2003 and the seizure level throughout this year is looking to be dramatically up on this figure. Actions against DVD piracy web sites for the first quarter in 2004 are already at a similar level to that for 2003.

If they made 10 seizures in 2002, and 40 in 2003, that's a 400% increase, so is 1 to 4. It says nothing about the level of seizures in 2003 or 2004 because it doesn't give a FIGURE, or HOW those figures are reached. Is it the number of seizures? The number of discs seized? The number of titles? Besides, since these seizures and actions are obviously 'A problem for business' (else why would it be here) then they need to be stopped.

The value of the black market in pirate DVDs in the UK is estimated at between £400 million and £500 million in 2003 and is expected to exceed £1 billion within three years.

Estimated by whom? On what basis? The MPAA estimates that its members lose approximately "$3 billion annually in potential worldwide revenue due to piracy". So, accordingly, nearly 1/3 of that is to counterfeit sales in the UK alone. When you add in the fact that the MPAA’s figure includes revenue lost to FREE downloads, then it’s pretty obvious that someone’s telling lies. It’s ridiculous to believe that the UK’s responsible for HALF of the MPAA’s WORLDWIDE losses. So, either the MPAA is understating their losses (extremely unlikely) or PIAC is overstating in an attempt to mislead. (source:, first paragraph)

Downloading of illegal film and television files has tripled in the last twelve months and over 1.6 million people are now estimated to be downloading illegal films and TV shows every week.

Again, it is hard to see what the point of this is. The majority of those downloading TV episodes are those unable to see them any other way. Ex-pats in the USA, for instance, have no other way to keep up with The Bill. It's not as if this was a potential ad-watching customer lost. Indeed, it's a potential ad-watching customer to be GAINED, as in general, people will request the show to be shown on their local stations. To also put in context, remember that, on the BBC and ITV, 1.6M viewers is average for most shows. How many times a week does Coronation Street or EastEnders pull 10x that many viewers?
That’s TV; as for movies the main problem is simple to understand – the cost. Downloading takes time, and blank media. A pirate copy is just cheaper. In neither case is the quality so good, so it MUST be something about the price, and maybe the distribution method.

Ben jones