At the moment Netflix seems to be suffering from increased competition from players such as Disney+, Prime Video, Paramount+ and other new streaming platforms – but also from an increase in the use of piracy, against a backdrop of the economic crisis and the decline household budget.
However, the springs of the phenomenon seem more complex than one could have imagined. Indeed, a study shows that in the United States, those who use pirate Kodi boxes, i.e. media centers configured with plugins allowing them to consult pirate content as simply as the content of pirate platforms, are accompanied by a clear increase in the legal consultation of content, in particular on Netflix and YouTube.
Are pirate boxes really incompatible with the legal offer?
The sulphurous dimension of Kodi, essentially linked to certain plugins developed by third parties, has earned the open source project several lawsuits. Suddenly, researchers from the University of Delaware and the University of North Carolina studied the behavior of users which allowed them this amazing discovery.
In detail, the study is quite solid since it covers data generated by 10,337 households. Data that includes the time spent on the internet and in front of the TV, as well as the expenditure of these households between 2017 and 2018, a period when the use of Kodi boxes was particularly prevalent in the country.
The researchers were thus able to compare the data before and after the purchase of a Kodi box. However, the first observation is that between households that have a Kodi box and those that do not, the former generated much more internet traffic, and spent more time on legal platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Twitch and others.
But the most interesting is to compare what happens before and after the purchase of a Kodi box by households. On average, after the installation of such devices, total Internet usage increases by 2.88 gigabytes per day. Including a large share of traffic to Netflix (0.52 gigabytes) and Youtube (0.57 gigabytes).
Another observation: those who install a Kodi box tend to watch more classic television live (in a legal way). There is also, of course, a marked increase in piracy. According to the researchers, this shows that Kodi boxes push its users to do everything through this interface, including classic TV.
Kodi box users also tend to change the structure of their entertainment spending. In particular, we observe less recourse to TV subscriptions, and more expenditure in terms of Internet access (faster speed, more data envelope, etc.):
“What Kodi box users spend on internet access is 4.2% higher. TV subscription spending is also estimated to decline by 3.1%,” say the researchers. Overall the actual saving made by Kodi box users would only be 1% every month.
Overall, their conclusion is that piracy can have both positive and negative effects on the legal offer – and that overall, the loss of revenue for rightsholders linked to this practice is not as straightforward as one might think.
“Many streaming platforms such as Netflix seem to have benefited from the adoption of Kodi despite the fact that they filed complaints against the project”say the researchers.