This, according to the global threat hunting and adversary-centric cyber intelligence company Group-IB, indicates that the market decline slowed down, with a 7% drop last year compared to 27% in 2019.
It adds that online pirates were not quite successful in fully restoring the video content database after the elimination of the CDN big three. After Moonwalk, HDGO, and Kodik were shut down, the geographical scope of pirate CDNs has been quite limited, with three locations: the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Russia (Mnogobyte/ZeroCDN).
Furthermore, they have lost advertising profits and found themselves in competition for viewers with legal online streaming platforms which were able to increase their audience during the pandemic. Despite the circumstances, digital pirates found a workaround for the anti-piracy memorandum.
In pandemic-hit 2020, the number of people using legal video streaming services in Russia increased by 17% to 63 million viewers compared to the previous year. According to TMT Consulting, the revenue of the legal streaming services market in Russia increased by 66% and reached $365.7 million.
The number of searches in popular search engines in Russian for free trending movies and TV shows on illegal websites has also grown. The figures show a 12% increase compared to 2019, amounting to 11.8 billion search queries (compared to 10.5 billion in 2019). The number of searches for illegal content rose to a record-high 1.4 billion intentions in April 2020. At times, servers streaming illegal content failed to deal with such a high influx of viewers.
Dmitriy Tiunkin, head of Digital Risk Protection Europe at Group-IB, said: “In 2020 both legal and illegal streaming platforms significantly increased their audience but failed to get the maximum benefit out of it.
“We witnessed pirates recover from the three largest CDNs being shut down. Pirates are restoring their technical capacity and increasing opposition to copyright owners. Some digital pirates use mutating links, domain changes, and decentralized CDNs to bypass the anti-piracy memorandum, thereby undermining attempts of manual regulation and anti-piracy techniques that were relevant several years ago”.