Digital Crossroads: The Phenomenon of PiracyPenetration and trends of illegality in Latin America
The problems caused by the consumption of audiovisual content through illegal means are on the agenda of various institutions and economic groups. Audiovisual piracy affects the entire industry, from recently released movies in theaters to live-streamed sport events, spanning On-Demand content platforms and open and paid TV channels. BB Media analyzes this phenomenon based on various studies using surveys, desk research, and data mining, focusing on households with internet access.
As of June of the current year, the territories with the highest penetration of piracy consumption were Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, with 55%, 48%, and 47%, respectively, surpassing the 40% Panregional level (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay).
It is also important to highlight that, in this last analyzed period, there is an observed growth in the consumption of audiovisual content through illegal means in all countries of the region.
This evolution could be mainly explained by two factors. The first one is the increased access to content through the internet. The phenomenon of digital convergence facilitates both signal and content theft, as well as their illegal consumption. It also enables the existence of intermediary operators who benefit from the illegal sale of services through various means, such as IPTV boxes with m3u lists, or the sale of access through the ‘cloning’ of real users to legal video platforms. The second cause is the rising cost of video platforms and cable TV, leading to a decline in the service. In the case of Pay TV, users also mentioned the possibility of accessing the same content on the internet for free. However, contrary to expectations, the penetration of Pay TV in households with piracy is significant in most countries, suggesting the coexistence of both consumption patterns.
This issue is evident in two audiovisual markets: recently released films and sports events. In fact, the most remembered movies by users in the region reflect a significant percentage of overlap with the most demanded piracy titles from the same period. Among the TOP 15 titles are ‘Fast X‘, ‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’, ‘My Fault’, ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse‘, and even ‘Extraction II’, an original content from Netflix. This demonstrates that piracy affects both theater-released films and platform content. The matching titles indicate peaks in pirate downloads or views. It is worth noting that piracy impacts the audiovisual market, leading to revenue losses, a decrease in job opportunities, and jeopardizing consumer security, as many are often unaware of the harm that illegal consumption can cause.
Regarding sports events, piracy significantly impacts the broadcasts of national team matches and top-tier football leagues, causing millions of dollars in losses. For example, it is estimated that during the third and fourth rounds of the CONMEBOL World Cup 2026 qualifiers, the matches involving Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela resulted in a loss of over USD $60 million.
The illegal consumption of audiovisual content, known as ‘piracy’, is a phenomenon that goes beyond summarization in a few pages. It represents a scourge that the audiovisual industry, in collaboration with national regulatory bodies, must confront. Therefore, it is crucial to take measures to raise awareness among the population about the harms of illegal consumption and to implement actions to identify and penalize audiovisual pirates.
WRITTEN BY: Jimena Municoy (Media Analyst at BB Media)
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