Why Jolly Roger is Sad: Internet Pirates’ Audience Grows and Their Earnings Fall

For the sixth time, Group-IB assessed the Internet piracy market in Russia – in 2020 it amounted to $ 59 million, which is 7% less than in 2019. The pirates were never able to restore the video content base after the liquidation of the “Big Three” CDNs, lost on advertising and entered into a fight for viewers with legal online cinemas, which had increased their audience amid the pandemic.

And the server bends and creaks

In “covid” 2020, the total audience of legal video services, according to TMT Consulting, compared to the previous year grew by 17%, to 63 million viewers, and the market for official online cinemas itself increased by 66% to 27.8 billion rubles.

The desire of Russians to watch the “pirate” also grew – the number of requests in popular search engines to watch free films and TV series at the end of the year grew by 12% and amounted to 11.8 billion (in 2019 it was 10.5 billion). April 2020 set an absolute historical record for the number of intentions to watch pirated films for free – 1.4 billion. Due to the large influx of viewers, the pirate’s servers could not even withstand the load.

Despite the growing interest in “pirate”, shady market video content last year it continued to shrink, losing 7%: from $ 63.5 million in 2019, it reached $ 59 million in 2020. In the summer, Group-IB released a study “With blackjack and boats”, in which she named the main beneficiaries of the Internet piracy market online casinos and bookmakers. It is they who sponsor the illegal copying of movie premieres and TV series, translations into several languages ​​by dubbing studios, and after publishing the stolen content, they place advertising banners, promotional codes and links to attract new players in pirated online cinemas. The close attention of law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and regulators to shadow financial flows led to the fact that advertisers’ interest in pirates began to fall: the average CPM (Cost-Per-Mille, price per 1000 impressions in an advertising campaign) decreased by about 16% from $ 6 to $ 5 compared to 2019.

For the first time specialists of the direction Group-IB Anti-Piracy estimated the volume of the Russian video piracy market in 2015: then it amounted to $ 32 million, in 2016 it almost doubled to $ 62 million, in 2017 – $ 85 million (+ 21% growth), in 2018 – $ 87 million (+ 2.3%). However, in 2019, for the first time in five years, there was a sharp collapse: the earnings of Internet pirates fell by 27% over the year and continued to shrink in 2020.

CDN “second wave”

By mid-2020, the three largest pirated video balancers (CDN) – Moonwalk, HDGO and Kodik, liquidated in 2019, were replaced by the second wave CDN: Collaps, HDVB, VideoCDN, Videoframe, Bazon, Ustore, Alloha, Protonvideo. However, even now, the illegal video content base of these eight largest CDNs contains only 50% of the Big Three, which supplied 75,000 films and series to 90% of pirated online cinemas in Russia and the CIS.

Another technological innovation adopted by pirates is the integration of video balancers with fully automated online cinemas. The first mass prototype was the script Cinemapress, on the basis of which in 2018-2019 about 400 pirated online cinemas. In April 2020, to replace the outdated project Cinemapress came Yobobox with 250 domains, which, unlike its predecessor, is fully integrated with one of the largest CDNs – Collapse, and offers free access to the entire database of video content.

The Yandex search engine is still remains the main source for pirated online cinemas, it accounts for an average of 90% of traffic, although as of the beginning of November 2020 this figure decreased by 5 percentage points compared to the level of 2019.The remaining 10% are provided by other search engines (Google accounts for up to 2%), social networks, instant messengers, browser add-ons and direct transitions. In addition, the tendency to accelerate indexing of new links by the Yandex search bot and the automation methods used by pirates can neutralize the effect of deletion from search results without the use of high-frequency monitoring systems.

Experts are particularly worried by the fact that in 2020 pirates learned how to quickly track links deleted using an anti-piracy memorandum and automatically generate new duplicates (with a different URL), which significantly reduces the effectiveness of the fight. Recall that the anti-piracy memorandum signed in 2018, with the participation of Yandex, Mail.Ru, Rambler, Channel One, VGTRK, STS Media, Gazprom-Media, obliged search engines to remove links to pages with pirated content from search results of users, and until recently was an effective means of countering Internet piracy.

“In 2020, pirates, as well as legal online cinemas, have significantly increased their audience, but have not been able to derive maximum benefit from this, notices Andrey Busargin, Deputy CEO of Group-IB in the area of ​​protection against digital risks We see pirates recovering their technical capacity and intensifying opposition to copyright holders, having survived the fall of the CDN Big Three. Some of the attackers, using “mutating duplicate links”, domain changes and decentralized CDNs, have found ways to bypass the anti-piracy memorandum, completely devaluing attempts at manual regulation and anti-piracy methods that were relevant a few years ago. “

Group-IB experts are confident that classical monitoring and blocking is no longer enough – it is necessary to identify and block the infrastructure of criminal groups using an automated system to find and eliminate digital risks, the knowledge base of which is daily supplemented with data on infrastructure, tactics, tools and new schemes of pirates.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply