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A fifth of UK internet users have watched TV illegally

Wednesday, July 22nd 2015 by Ellen Branagh

One in five UK internet users have streamed or downloaded a TV programme illegally, a new survey has revealed.

The survey, published by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), highlights the latest UK trends in online streaming and downloading.

It found that 15m UK internet users have accessed a TV programme online. 21% of users accessed some TV content illegally.

BBC iPlayer, YouTube and ITV Player were the top platforms for accessing TV programmes online, with iPlayer responsible for 62% of activity.

The study found that 62% of internet users in the UK have downloaded or streamed music, TV shows, films, computer software, videogames or e-books – up from 56% in 2013.

It also found an increase of 6% in the online consumption of both legal and illegal content.

There was a 10% increase in UK consumers accessing content legally since 2013, but one in five consumers still access some content illegally, it found.

The survey, which was conducted between March and May this year, was published in parallel with research in Australia.

It shows that while British and Australian users consumed online media at similar rates, illegal downloading for UK consumers was half the rate of their Australian counterparts.

15.6m UK internet users accessed music online. 12m users streamed music and 10.5m users downloaded music, with 16 to 24-year-olds the most active in music downloads.

YouTube, Amazon and Spotify were the top platforms used for downloading and streaming with 54% of all music streaming and downloads accessed via YouTube.

'Internet piracy'

The study found that 10m UK internet users accessed films online.

Netflix, Amazon and YouTube were the top platforms for film downloads and streaming with Netflix responsible for 44% of all activity. 25% of users accessed some content illegally.

The findings showed that the average quarterly spend on downloading and streaming content ranged from £6.68 for TV programmes to £20.28 for music.

The most common reasons given for illegally downloading were because it’s free (49%) and convenient (43%).

Respondents said they would be encouraged to stop infringing if there were cheaper legal services (25%) and if everything was available legally (21%).

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe said: “It’s great news that a huge proportion of UK consumers are going online to enjoy music, TV shows, video games and e-books legally, supporting our creative industries to grow and showing the benefits of making legal content widely available.

“By building a clear picture of online streaming and downloading trends we can work with industry and international partners to tackle the problems of internet piracy and increase public awareness of the ways people can download and stream legally.”

The government is carrying out several steps to tackle illegal streaming and downloading, including providing funding towards a campaign to educate consumers on how they can download and stream legally, and for a specialist police unit to tackle copyright infringement.

It is also consulting on proposals to toughen criminal penalties for large scale commercial copyright infringement, and is working with the European Commission and industry to tackle piracy.

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