Streaming UK: Corporate greed has ruined streaming, so piracy will make a comeback - Alexander Brown

Soaring prices for streaming services have seen a rise in the use of torrents

A long time ago, in a rural part of the country far, far, away, I worked in a kitchen, washing up. I along with my colleagues would spend day after day working in cramped hot rooms, arriving home with fat and oil seeping through our clothes.

It didn’t pay well, the conditions weren’t particularly nice. But through it all, we had music, all bringing in CDs to share, to swap, and help us sing through the monotony. Without infinite music libraries, some of my co-workers would burn CDs, ripping tracks off albums or, in a secret passed around a generation, downloading them illegally.

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It started with Limewire, then graduated to torrents, where suddenly all the music people could ever want was available, for free, as quickly as broadband speeds – if you had it – would allow.

Quite an expensive way to watch television.Quite an expensive way to watch television.
Quite an expensive way to watch television.

It was entry level piracy, and it served the cooks well, who soon graduated to films and television.

Piracy was quick, accessible, and how most people seemed to watch. Why wait for Community to make it to Britain when it’s out in the US now? Why check TV listings when an entire season of something can be downloaded ad-free in an hour?

But then streaming came along, and with it an accessibility even torrents could not provide. There was no need to download, no requirement to check for viruses, and zero risk of porn pop-ups. It was brilliant, and so piracy took a dip, with figures plummeting as Netflix rose.

For years, this has been lovely, allowing us to watch brilliant television that we want to watch immediately, giving us the chance to binge and absolutely hemorrhage any sense of productivity.

This was premium content at an affordable price and everyone loved it. Unfortunately, it has now been ruined. Netflix, which has 238 million subscribers, responded to a cost-of-living crisis by raising prices. With growth slowing, it cracked down on password sharing, and gave us adverts to boot, making a good service worse and more expensive. This is from a company that made £26.7 billion last year.

They aren’t the only ones, with capitalism never limited to one company, but a disease that spreads. Netflix’s success saw the rise of Prime, Apple TV, Disney+ and Now TV. To have them all would cost £43.95 a month. That’s £527 a year!

The world is burning, everything is more expensive, and companies are deciding to charge us more to enjoy their product less. If that’s not a call to the high seas, I don’t know what is.

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It seems inevitable piracy will return, as more friends cancel subscriptions, returning to the comfort of a hard drive.

If the public can't watch what we want for an affordable price, we'll just stop watching. It's not beyond streaming services to make it cheaper. If they keep driving up prices, they will just drive more back to piracy. Not me, obviously. But others.



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