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And the Winner for the Most Pirated Motion Picture Is...

rdeto Reveals 385% Spike in Piracy Worldwide for Oscar-Nominated Films and Estimated Potential Revenue of over $40 Million from Leaked Hollywood Screeners of Movies like American Sniper and The Imitation Game

SAN JOSE, Calif.(19 Feb 2015)

Millions of people will be tuning in on February 22 to see which of their favorite films win that coveted golden statue at the 87th Academy Awards®. And while the majority of those fans have paid a premium to see these films legally, an increasing number of others chose to pirate those films instead, according to new data from Irdeto, a world leader in anti-piracy and Revenue Assurance solutions.

Irdeto monitored illegal downloads of films in the U.S. and over 200 countries worldwide from January 1 through February 14. The company revealed that the Academy Awards draws massive consumer interest outside the U.S., evidenced by a 385%1 increase in piracy worldwide for nominated films following the announcements on January 15. While Gone Girl was the early frontrunner after nominations, American Sniper took the lead and is currently the most pirated film in the world post-nomination, according to the data. This global piracy activity can be seen visually in Irdeto’s 2015 Academy Awards Piracy Heat Map.

If the awards were decided based on illegal downloads following the nomination, the category winners on Sunday would be:

  • Best Picture – American Sniper (1,389,819 downloads worldwide since Jan. 15; the top title downloaded in the U.S. as well as over 100 other countries).
  • Best Director – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman (796,697 downloads worldwide since Jan. 15; the #1 downloaded film in both Mexico and Spain).
  • Best Actress – Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl (1,252,074 downloads worldwide since Jan. 15).
  • Best Actor – Bradley Cooper, American Sniper (1,389,819 downloads worldwide since Jan. 15).

Hollywood Screener Leakage

Nominated films were pirated from a number of formats including Blu-ray discs, HDTV, CAM (cameras), DVD and other sources. However, Hollywood screeners specifically accounted for a substantial 31% of the total illegal downloads tracked between January 15 and February 14. Hollywood screeners are traditionally Blu-Ray discs or DVDs (although some studios are now moving to online distribution) given to film critics, awards voters and other film industry professionals for an advanced screening. Six nominated movies currently unavailable for retail purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD, VOD or legal streaming/download sites saw the majority of piracy coming directly from these screeners: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Wild, Selma, Whiplash and Still Alice. While not every illegal download can be considered a lost sale, Irdeto estimates a potential over$40 million2 in retail revenue that could have been captured for these six titles, if they had been made available to consumers.

Windowing and Lack of Legal Online Options

“Our data clearly shows that the rest of the world is paying attention to the Academy Awards and there is significant demand for new movies to be available earlier, in more geographies and over more platforms,” said Rory O’Connor, VP Services, Irdeto and the company’s global expert on online piracy and countermeasures. “In the world of internet re-distribution, the window between theatrical release and worldwide market availability may simply be too long, leaving room for pirates to take advantage and offer consumers alternative means of instant gratification. Today’s consumers simply refuse to wait to access these movies through legitimate services.”

While Gone Girl, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, and Two Days, One Night were released for VOD, streaming, Blu-ray, and DVD through distributors in the United States and select countries worldwide prior to the awards, this did not actually slow down piracy due to the windowing gap between theatrical release and consumer availability. For example, Two Days, One Night leaked on September 28, 2014 and retail release in the U.S. was on October 20, 2014. Some films have already leaked and the window is still quite far out. Still Alice leaked November 27, 2014 and is not scheduled for release in the U.S. until July 2015 while American Sniper leaked January 6, 2014 and no release date is currently scheduled.

Piracy Worldwide

Irdeto found a spike in piracy for almost every country following the January 15 nominations. Outside of the U.S., the top ten countries that account for the most illegal downloads (totaling over 3 million) are: Russia, Italy, United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, India, Australia, Spain, South Korea and the Netherlands. Alternatively, the countries with the highest percentage of piracy per Internet user population were Australia, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

While legal video content in various formats is often available in the U.S. sooner than the rest of the world, the combined illegal downloads for California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania still accounted for 5.8% of total global downloads. Some people will always choose to pirate due to cost, convenience and personal preference, even if the viewing quality of the pirated version is inferior to the legal alternative.

A quick read report for the data highlighted above can be found here and on the Irdeto website, as can more information about the company’s Piracy Control and Business Intelligence services.


1 Number calculated by comparing daily downloads of pirate activity the week (7 days) prior to January 15 to the week (7 days) following.

2 This number has been calculated by taking the total number of post-nomination downloads from screeners for movies without a retail release: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Wild, Selma, Whiplash and Still Alice (2.04 million) and multiplying it by the typical cost ($19.99) of a new Blu-ray disc.


Irdeto monitored popular films that were expected to be nominated starting January 1, 2015 in an effort to capture pre-nomination numbers and a predicted spike in activity after nominations. The team continued to closely monitor nominated films for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Actor from January 15, 2015 (nomination date) through February 14 including: The Grand Budapest Hotel; Two Days, One Night; Boyhood; Gone Girl; Birdman; The Theory of Everything; Whiplash; Foxcatcher; Wild; Still Alice; The Imitation Game; Selma; and American Sniper. Irdeto tracked illegal download data for the nominated titles in all 50 states in the U.S. and over 200 countries worldwide. This data was procured through Irdeto's automated crawlers that use proprietary tracking software to identify users and files on the BitTorrent network. A download represents a unique IP address pirating a unique file on the BitTorrent peer-to-peer network.

About Irdeto

Irdeto is a world leader in Multiscreen, Revenue Assurance and Media Protection solutions for pay TV operators, OTT service providers and content owners. Irdeto enables pay media companies to provide a personal media experience for their consumers, uncover new revenue opportunities and offer new forms of entertainment on broadcast, broadband and mobile networks. The company offers an advanced portfolio of rights management, multi-screen, home networking, piracy control, media protection and business intelligence services. Irdeto’s success in the market is evidenced by its broadcast software security solutions being the most widely deployed in the world for pay TV on satellite, cable, terrestrial and IP networks and by helping customers preserve business value and generate new revenue with its Multiscreen services. Irdeto is a subsidiary of multinational media group Naspers (JSE: NPN). Please visit Irdeto at