Users in affluent Singapore still pirating online content

Despite knowing the potential security risks of doing so, 39 percent of Singaporeans admit they illegally stream or download content, with 14 percent tapping streaming devices to access pirated content.

Singapore's average household income may be higher than most, but 39 percent confess they still are streaming or download online content illegally--driven primarily by the notion of free access.

These online users said they currently accessed pirated movies, TV shows, or live sports channels, with 14 percent tapping streaming media devices to do so, revealed a CASBAA survey. Conducted by Sycamore Research, the findings were based on a survey of 1,000 respondents in Singapore as well as 300 users of streaming devices.

Don't blame the pirates when they have no access to legal content

As I caught up with my relatives over our annual lunar new year gatherings earlier this week, I was asked a question that had popped up many times before: "How do I download music on iTunes?"And the answer has always been the same: "You can't if you're in Asia (outside of Japan).

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CASBAA represents companies across the Asia-Pacific that provide digital multichannel TV, content, advertising, and video services, and its member network spans more than 500 million connections across the region including China, Japan, and Pakistan.

Noting that Singaporeans were among the world's top consumers of pirated online content, the association said 74 percent of respondents acknowledged that accessing pirated content carried security risks, potentially exposing them to viruses, spyware, and malware.

Some 40 percent said they stopped their pirating ways due to malware risks, while 37 percent did so because there now were more legal options available. Another 68 percent acknowledged that pirating content was akin to stealing or theft, but nearly three quarters considered piracy normal or typical behaviour, the study noted.

Amongst those that confessed to actively streaming or downloading pirated content, 63 percent said their actions were motivated by having free access to content. Almost a third of Singapore respondents said blocking illegal content sites was the most effective way to reduce online piracy.

CASBAA Chief Policy Officer John Medeiros said: "Admitted usage of TV boxes that provide illegal access to TV series, movies, and live sports events is much greater in Singapore than in other developed markets, such as the US and the UK. While these numbers are already concerning, they rely on the candour of respondents and, undoubtedly, underestimate the true scale of the problem."

On CASBAA's website, Medeiros also noted: "In the world of digital piracy, it's simply not possible to stop every scoundrel in every part of the world from stealing files, or streams, created by others and reselling them. The goal of fighting piracy has to be a mass-market focus: to raise the cost and hassle of obtaining pirate feeds to the point where the mass of people decide it's really easier and more cost-effective to subscribe for legal content supply... That's where we need to get to, in Asia."

Singapore boasted a median monthly household income of S$8,846 (US$6,580) last year, which grew 2.6 percent in real terms over 2015.