Report: Global Online Video Piracy Costs U.S. Economy $29.2B Annually

Move over counterfeit DVDs, illegal video streaming has become a singular threat to Hollywood studios and content creators.

A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce report from its Global Innovation Policy Center and NERA Economic Consulting contends online global piracy of movies and TV shows negatively impacts the domestic economy by at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year.

Of that fiscal theft, more than 80% is attributable to streaming video through illegal set-top devices and apps, supplanting file-sharing networks and download-based technologies.

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At the end of 2018, there were more video streaming subscribers globally than paid-TV subs, accessing more than 500 licensed online video portals. The Chamber says the explosion in creative and tech required to supply over-the-top video distribution employs upwards of 2.6 million people in the U.S. and provide $229 billion in annual benefits to the U.S. economy.

Specifically, the report found that there are 26.6 billion illegal online viewings of U.S.-produced movies and 126.7 billion illegal streaming of U.S.-produced TV episodes each year — the majority from outside the U.S.

The Chamber says digital video piracy results in 230,000 to 560,000 lost jobs and from $47.5 billion to $115.3 billion in reduced gross domestic product (GDP) each year. While piracy remains a problem in the U.S., the report suggests that most of the aforementioned losses are due to digital video piracy of U.S. content by non-U.S. residents.

Indeed, when Hong Kong-based file-sharing website Megaupload was shut down by authorities in 2013, separate research found that the action resulted in an increase in digital revenue from 6.5% and 8.5% for three major U.S. studios.

And the shuttering of 53 piracy sites in the U.K. in 2015 led to a 6% increase in visits to legal streaming sites and a 10% increase in videos viewed on ad-supported platforms.

“While there is no single solution, global collaboration among industries and governments to educate consumers of the dangers of piracy, coupled with the expansion of legal options in cases of infringement, is necessary to curb these negative effects,” David Hirschmann, CEO of GIPC, wrote in the report. “All parties must continue to work creatively and constructively to enable dreamers, innovators, and creators around the world to continue to tell their unique stories and advance our culture and economy.”