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Streaming close to the wind: Three in five brits admit to viewing habits that break the law

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Streaming close to the wind: Three in five brits admit to viewing habits that break the law

As Netflix prepares to clamp down on account sharing, new research reveals that a quarter of UK viewers have done this — alongside a host other misdemeanours

The majority of Brits are prepared to bend or break the rules to either get extra streaming services, watch pay-per-view (PPV) events and movies or avoid paying for their TV licence.

Research by streaming service WatchTVAbroad.com reveals that in total 62% have done something illegal for the sake of their small screen viewing, with this rising to 85% among those aged 18-24.

Last month, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office said that sharing passwords for streaming services like Netflix was a breach of copyright laws, yet a quarter (24%) of Brits admit to piggybacking on the accounts of friends or family.

The lure — and expense — of PPV sporting events like world title boxing matches was enough to persuade one in six (17%) to seek them out using illegal streaming sites, while 16% confessed they had used a special device like a modified set-top box or USB stick to access extra pay-TV channels for free.

15% said they had been threatened with enforcement action by the TV licensing authority, and 14% said they had downloaded a TV series or show illegally. Once the most high-profile form of illegal viewing, only 10% of those surveyed said they had pirated a movie.

When it came to TV rule breaking, younger Brits were consistently more likely to take part than older groups, while Londoners led the way when it came to account sharing, illegal downloads and the use of devices to get extra content.

Jeff Richey, TV analyst at WatchTVAbroad.com, comments:

“Whether it’s a streaming misdemeanour or a refusal to pay the licence fee, when it comes to TV rule breaking it seems most British viewers are in a rogues’ gallery. The young are the biggest offenders, with the huge growth of options to view content online meaning that these digital natives have quickly adapted not only their viewing but their bad behaviour too.

“As rival services like Netflix and Disney Plus fight tooth and nail in the battle for streaming subscribers, they also clearly have a job on their hands to clamp down on the account sharing that takes a big bite out of their bottom line.

“Despite the verdict of the Intellectual Property Office, many people clearly see pooling their passwords with family members as par for the course rather than a criminal offence.”

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