Illegal downloading in the UK is rising despite ISPs blocking popular file-sharing sites, but more people are paying for online films, TV and music.
One in six (18 per cent) internet users older than 12 years accessed illegal content from November 2012-January 2013, compared to 16 per cent in the previous three months.
Around one in 20 internet users (five per cent) only consume films, music and TV obtained illegally, usually because it’s free (48 per cent), convenient (39 per cent) and quick (36 per cent).
Read Recombu Digital’s report on UK ISPs blocking file sharingThe court-enforced blockades of file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, Newzbin2, Kickass Torrents, Fenopy and H33T seem to have had little effect.
Music is the most-pirated content, with around 10 per cent of internet users listening to something they didn’t obtain legally, with film at 7 per cent and TV shows at 6 per cent.
The survey for Ofcom estimates that UK users illegally consumed 280 million music tracks during the last quarter of 2012, 52 million TV episodes, 29 million films and 18 million ebooks.
The biggest spenders are those who consume a mix of illegal and legal – 66 per cent more than the purely legal consumers on TV, 50 per cent more on music, and 12 per cent on film.
The good news for content owners and producers is that the proportion of internet users who consume a mix of legal and illegal films rose from 10 per cent to 14 per cent, while purely illegal film consumers fell from 26 per cent to 20 per cent.
Music also saw a small fall in dedicated illegal consumers, from 17 per cent to 14 per cent, with small rises in mixed and purely legal consumption. TV saw a similar but less-pronounced change.
Meanwhile, Amazon, Lovefilm, Netflix, Sky Go Google Play, Demand 5 and Blinkbox also saw significant increases in public awareness of their availability for legal content consumption.
YouTube (60 per cent), BBC iPlayer (37 per cent) and peer-to-peer sharing (35 per cent) are the most popular sources with those who have consumed any illegal content, although email is on the rise as a route for sharing (up to 21 per cent from 14 per cent).
Purely legal consumers prefer BBC iPlayer (46 per cent), followed by YouTube (39 per cent) and Amazon (36 per cent including the Kindle), with Facebook rising from 14 per cent to 17 per cent.
Kantar Media sampled more than 5,000 people on behalf of Ofcom, including 990 12-15 year olds who are online daily, 2,990 16-64 year olds who are online daily.
They also spoke to 634 16-64 year olds, and 823 people aged 65, who use the internet less than once a day or don’t have any internet access.
Pirate button image by Erreur32/Flickr