Netflix has just named its biggest competitor. If you think it was Amazon, HBO or Apple, think again. In a letter to its shareholders, the online TV goliath named pirate streaming service Popcorn Time as its fastest growing rival.
“Piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors. This graph of Popcorn Time’s sharp rise relative to Netflix and HBO in the Netherlands, for example, is sobering,” the company’s statement said.
Netflix, due to launch on March 31 in Australia, did note it was going to face “strong competition” from Australia’s new services, which include Presto, Stan and Quickflix, but it’s nothing compared to the trajectory of illegal sites.
When you also consider the majority of Australians cannot legally stream content into their home, downloading media to watch later is a desirable alternative.
In fact, the ease with which one can now access and share copyrighted content is breathtaking. Here are four reasons why the battle against piracy will be a hard one.
At first glance, this program looks a lot like many legitimate streaming media websites and mobile apps. Its slick, clean design could have come from any number of major Hollywood studios or local content providers.
But, no, it’s actually an independently designed portal to connect users to an international network of torrented media files.
From the latest new-release movies and TV, to iconic and genre-defining TV series and cinema, it’s all here, accessible at the click of a mouse.
You can even select the quality of media you want to view: from Standard Definition to various levels of HD. The content is then viewed on your PC or mobile device (Android only).
However, when paired with legitimate technology, like Google’s Chromecast, the full powers of Popcorn Time kick in.
Just select your media, choose Chromecast as the screening option and within a few minutes you’re watching Blu-ray quality movies and TV on your HD television. Easy, eh?
While the program itself is not illegal (yet), the act of using it to stream media is.
A little more hands-on than Popcorn Time, Vuze allows users to search torrent databases en masse, aggregating results to make finding media easier.
The program then takes care of downloading the torrented file and also features a built-in media viewer.
If you don’t like watching media on your PC, files can be transferred to a USB drive to be watched on your device of choice.
A recent update to Microsoft’s next-gen gaming console, Xbox One, now allows users to connect USB drives directly to the console to view personal media; photos, videos and music.
Of course, this now opens the door for pirates to load up a portable hard drive with their plundered booty and watch it directly from their console without missing a beat in their Call of Duty match.
Google’s flexible screencasting device has made watching your favourite movies and TV on any screen a wonderful reality.
An HDMI dongle, the small device plugs directly into your HDTV or set-top box and can be wirelessly accessed from other computers on your network.
The easiest legitimate way to use your Chromecast is via the company’s online media store, Google Play, which is a great way to access new and old movies and TV, all for a reasonable price.
Other streaming media services, like Quickflix, are also compatible with the device.
However, due to the company’s liberal policy of developer support, piracy software makers – like Popcorn Time – have been able to access the Chromecast’s powerful, yet simple, features to make torrenting media easier.
There’s no doubt that legal content providers are slowly making headway to provide access to reasonably priced and timely content. The reasons to pirate are dwindling.
But with interest in unrestricted, albeit illegal, access to media growing around the world, content makers and rights holders will need to work closer together to ensure the product they offer encourages an appropriate level of revenue without sacrificing the needs of the viewer.
To access legitimate streaming media services within Australia, check out our rundown here.
Disclaimer: The New Daily does not condone copyright infringement. The information contained herein is for editorial purposes only.