Industry Researcher Has Never Seen So Many Disc Releases — the Majority Bootlegs

Industry Researcher Has Never Seen So Many Disc Releases — the Majority Bootlegs

Ralph Tribbey, founder and publisher of The DVD and Blu-ray Release Report, has been tracking the number of annual releases on disc since the inception of the DVD format — and he’s never seen as many disc releases as he’s seeing this year.

Ralph Tribbey

The majority of them aren’t coming from the studios or other legitimate sources — they’re being released by bootleggers. The pirates, or “helpers” as Tribbey wryly calls them, are filling a void in the marketplace as the studios have turned away from physical media to concentrate on streaming.

“The studios have checked out,” he says, adding that content owners don’t think it’s worth the effort and money to combat the disc pirates. “I think they’ve made a financial decision.”

Studios aren’t mining their catalog, he notes, so others are. There were 90 theatrical catalog titles released by bootleggers in one recent week alone, he says.

“Other than doing DVD on new theatrical, they don’t bother with it,” he says. “The studios own all these libraries, but they don’t enforce the copyright. They don’t release it and keep the consumer satisfied.”

Bootleg discs have always been around, but the numbers really began to explode in 2021, with 2023 on track to reach a record 28,983 new DVD releases, according to Tribbey’s estimates, more than double the 12,451 released in 2020. Blu-ray releases are showing similar results with the number through June 30 already at 3,917 — more than the number of Blu-ray releases in all of 2020 (3,333). Tribbey estimates there will be a total of 7,500 new Blu-ray releases for all of 2023.

An estimated 66.4% of the releases this year through June 30 have been bootlegs, according to Tribbey. That percentage is 61% for Blu-ray Discs through June 30.

Indeed, as the pandemic accelerated the move to streaming, it also boosted piracy.

“Now it’s literally on steroids,” he says. “They are mass producing this stuff.”

Studios offering their catalog and newest content on streaming services has been a boon for pirates, who can turn around a program on disc at lightning speed. He noted that the animated movie Nimona, which he estimates had a budget of $40 million to $50 million, began streaming on Netflix June 30 “and before the sun went down it was available on Blu-ray” via bootleggers.

“That’s how fast,” Tribbey stresses. “The studios with the streaming are just serving it up and [the pirates] are pulling it down.”

He points out that the 2022 Best Picture Oscar winner CODA, streaming on Apple TV+, has never been available on disc via a legitimate source in the United States.

He says he can hardly blame the consumers who purchase these pirated discs.

“The packaging is slick,” he says. “It’s available immediately, and the consumer doesn’t know if it’s legit or not. Consumers can’t tell the difference. They do not know. They might suspect that it’s pirated, but they do not know.”

Gone are the days of selling pirated discs on the street corner. Numerous websites are now havens for bootleg sellers.

“They have discovered that Etsy is a giant flea market of piracy,” he notes.

The studios are missing out on profits by not plugging the bootleg hole and releasing titles that consumers want on disc, he says. With the recently released streaming action sequel Extraction 2, Tribbey estimates Netflix left more than $70 million dollars of potential profit on the table.

“Nobody seems to care,” Tribbey says.

3 thoughts on “Industry Researcher Has Never Seen So Many Disc Releases — the Majority Bootlegs”

  1. Are any of the hardware makers getting back into the business of DVD players? I’ll never understand why all this money is being left on the table.

  2. I want to buy so many shows I’ve seen on netflix, but surprise surprise, they NEVER get released.

    And they wonder why people resort to theft?

    1. True. Netflix could make money off of their shows if they tried. I was hoodwinked and complained because I knew it was a bootleg (and wouldn’t have bought it). People just want to own it and won’t complain about bootlegging sellers.

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