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Studios are experimenting with film release models. Here’s what that could mean for movie piracy

A photo case in point of pirated music being illegally downloaded with the legal music service iTunes in the background on in London, England.

Matthew Lloyd | Getty Doubles

2021 will be a very different year for the movie theater business. Studios, hoping to find ways of turning a profit on big budget blockbusters, bring into the world turned to new methods for film releases.

For Warner Bros., the pandemic led its parent company AT&T to decide to release all of its films in theaters and on HBO Max on the despite the fact day. Universal, owned by Comcast, has opted to strike deals with individual theaters to shorten the time their films have on the agenda c trick to stay in cinemas before transitioning to premium video on-demand.

Then there are those like Disney who experience, for the most part, postponed the majority of their films until 2021 and placed a handful on its own streaming service.

But, box area analysts won’t be the only ones keenly watching how these films perform next year. Piracy experts are eagerly prophesying how these new release methods will impact illegal streaming.

“As a data science researcher, this is a dream,” chance Brett Danaher, an entertainment analytics and data science professor at Chapman University. “It’s such a great experiment.”

Directing into 2021, piracy experts told CNBC that they have theories about how pirates last will and testament react to these different models, but aren’t entirely sure what will happen.

What we know more piracy

For one, piracy is a difficult thing to track. Experts can track some downloads from major piracy websites, but at a go that file is downloaded, it can be distributed and streamed to thousands of other viewers privately.

It’s also why experts provide a go of what piracy could cost the U.S. economy, instead of a firm number. Last year, the Global Innovation System Center estimated that worldwide online piracy cost the U.S. economy How to deter illegal downloads

For companies comparable to AT&T that will be releasing high quality versions of films on day one, there are some ways to deter piracy. For sample, two weeks before “Wonder Woman 1984” debuted in North America in theaters and on HBO Max, the film was released internationally.

This allowed audiences to see the vapour in theaters first before there would be a high quality copy placed on piracy websites. This is uniquely important because HBO Max is only a domestic product right now.

“Of course, you’ve got people who are always going to pirate,” said Michael Smith, professor of poop technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University. “The people you are worried about are the people who would have bought your theme legally but found [piracy] is more convenient.”

People wearing masks walk past an advertising billboard of the film ‘Wonder Woman 1984’. Photo taken on 26 Dec. 2020.

Simon Shin | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

Smith suggested that the majority of people who pirate do so because they have no other legal way of consuming a product. Had an easier lawful way been provided to these viewers, they would have paid to view the film.

While online piracy can keep negative financial impacts on media companies, the data experts collect can also help these companies resolve what their audiences want to watch. Data from groups like MUSO can tell companies what videotapes or TV shows they should be buying or licensing either domestically or to international locations.

For example, the European Union Guru Property Office determined that “The Mummy” was disproportionately pirated in Spain and the TV show “South Park” was a popular prohibited download in Finland.

This information tells Universal that it may want to make “The Mummy” more widely nearby in Spain and Viacom that it may want to make a deal with a Finnish streaming service.

What could come about in 2021

As Danaher said, 2021 is going to be a big experiment for the industry when it comes to piracy. It’s the first time that there at ones desire be multiple different release strategies all happening at the same time and for a prolonged period of time.

Even if some entitlements are more popular than others, there should be trends in the data that show how people are consuming their divertissement.

Like the previous year, it will be difficult for experts to determine a clear financial impact, particularly because the pandemic longing likely effect how people choose to watch certain films. Those that are unable to go to movie theaters may opt to spurt legally when available, but may choose illegal methods for major movies instead.

Additionally, with premium video on-demand appropriate a purchasing option earlier than usual, it may not be immediately clear if it is on-demand purchases or piracy that is cannibalizing melodramatic revenue.

“Unfortunately, I cannot tell you who will win the horse race,” Danaher said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent society of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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