Traditional and digital TV subscribers still pirate: study

Canadians have a taste for piracy, but aren't necessarily early adopters of new tech.

With all the various traditional and digital (legal) choices available to Canadians for TV and movies, some still prefer to do things the risky way.

According to the latest Sneak Peek Report by the Media Technology Monitor (MTM), one eighth of Canadians have pirated content in the last month. The study surveyed 8,000 Canadians to determine what tech they use and how they’re consuming content. The study found a significant number of those Canadians surveyed pirate content, whether or not they subscribe to a traditional or digital TV service.

In fact, 10% of traditional TV subscribers report pirating content illegally, while 26% of those who the MTM identifies as “TV My Way” subscribers (people who subscribe to OTT or consume content in ways other than traditional TV subscriptions) said they pirated content.

Canadians are big online content consumers, particularly in the growing niche of e-sports, while, perhaps unsurprisingly, younger users gravitate more toward this emerging trend.

Just under one fifth (19%) of Canadians have watched gaming videos online in the last month; in the specific e-sports category, 5% have watched in the last month. Gen Z significantly over-indexes on this stat, however – 48% of younger Canadians have watched a streamed game online, and 15% have watched e-sports.

Tech ownership and adoption

Nevertheless, even though Canadians have a taste for content, they’re not necessarily the most tech-minded of people. Only one in 10 respondents consider themselves “early adopters” of new tech (2% consider themselves “the first to purchase” new tech developments, and 8% “among the first to purchase”). Nearly half (46%) describe themselves as “middle of the pack” while almost the same amount (43%) consider themselves late adopters.

Naturally, there’s a correlation between household income and likelihood to be an early adopter – 22% of survey respondents with a household income of $200,000 or more self-identify as early adopters.

For example, only one tenth of Canadians surveyed own a smart speaker. While MTM does not track other countries, studies from the likes of eMarketer and comScore show that this might put Canada on the lower end of the ownership spectrum – ownership has been shown to be higher in markets such as Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. (eMarketer puts the U.S. at 26%, while ComScore puts it at 20%).

For smart speaker brands, more than half of owners (55%) opt for the Google Home, while 22% own an Amazon Echo. Smaller brands such as Sonos and the Apple HomePod, which has not widely launched in Canada, barely registered, with less than 5% ownership.

The Francophone factor

Although Francophones, especially those in Quebec, prefer a made-in-Quebec approach to content, 59% do watch English content, and just over half of those consumers do so on a weekly basis.

The Francophones surveyed who subscribe to Netflix are more likely to watch English language content. The SVOD has been panned by some observers in the Francophone community for its lack of French content that appeals to Quebec viewers. Of Francophones who subscribe to Netflix, 80% say they watch English content regularly.