The appearance of the film in the torrent after the premiere increases the box office by 3%

Published on February 04, 2019

The appearance of the film in the torrent after the premiere increases the box office by 3%


    The increase in box office revenue by film genres in the event that a leak in torrents occurred after the premiere

    Another study confirmed the benefit of “correct” piracy for the film industry. And here the scientists did not take into account hypothetical formulas like double marginalization . They didn’t model anything, but studied the actual box office numbers in the USA on several hundred movies during The Pirate Bay’s major downtimein 2014. Scientists also analyzed the number of hands and the date of the appearance of new products on the Russian torrent trackers Rutracker and Rutor. The results were quite intriguing.

    The standard logic of Hollywood is that piracy is detrimental to the box office. It is customary to calculate the “damage” from piracy as lost profit from the sale of tickets and licensed copies. It is understood that one downloaded copy from torrents is always equal to one unbroken ticket or a licensed film. However, studies show that most of the "pirated" audience in any case would not have bought a licensed film, that is, these downloads are not converted directly into lost profits.

    At the same time, it has long been believed that the distribution of unlicensed copies on the Internet stirs up the expectations of the audience. This is a kind of advertising that arouses interest in the film and thereby stimulates the box office. Researchers from the University of Western Ontario (Canada) and the University of Houston (USA) decided to test this theory.

    The charts below compare the number of movie downloads in torrents, box office, the volume of messages on the Internet through word of mouth (Word-of-Mouth, WOM), which was measured by the number of references to the movie on sites with ratings and reviews from viewers.



    Obviously, "word of mouth" exactly correlated with the box office. But what is the correlation with the volume of pirated traffic? And most importantly - how does the date of the publication of the film on torrent trackers with the amount of box office affect? The authors of the study had to work hard to correctly answer these questions.

    The main results of the study are shown in the table below.



    As you can see, if the leakage into torrents occurred before the premiere, then in such a situation, the cash collection is reduced by 11.04% compared to the situation when there is no piracy (for example, if the torrent tracker is not available, as after the 2014 blockade). In principle, this result is consistent with previous studies on this topic. In this case, the increase in the rumors about the film is insufficient to compensate for the negative effect of the appearance of a high-quality copy in the torrents.

    But the most interesting is the second column. It shows that the leakage of the film to the torrent after the premiere is accompanied by an increase in box office by 3.01%. According to the authors of the study, such a leak performs a marketing function and increases the amount of information that is transmitted by word of mouth.

    But it must be admitted that only those films that have managed to keep a copy from distribution on the Internet to the premiere receive an increase in box office. If we consider the overall effect, in general, torrent trackers have a negative impact on the box office. In other words, after disconnecting The Pirate Bay , more viewers went to the cinema.

    “Piracy before the premiere has a significant negative effect, in our data it suppresses the positive effect of piracy after the premiere. That is, the overall effect of piracy is still negative, ” says Shijie Lu, lead author of research from the University of Houston.

    Thus, copyright holders and film studios can draw appropriate conclusions from this study. They should not fight against piracy indiscriminately, but only with the "wrong" piracy, trying to prevent copies from leaking before the premiere. And after the release of films on screens, piracy already has a positive effect, no matter how long the pirated copy circulates on the Internet. In other words, combating the distribution of an unlicensed copy after the film is released on screens is not only useless, but also detrimental to business.

    Scientific article published January 16, 2019 in the journal Management Science .