Report encourages tough line

LONDON — Piracy would be massively reduced if offenders received a warning from their Internet service provider, according to a wide-ranging survey of digital entertainment activity in the U.K.

A report undertaken by Entertainment Media Research and commissioned by specialist media lawyers Wiggin LLP, suggests 70% of people would cease piracy if they received a warning. Percentage of those who would stop downloading unauthorized content if contacted by their ISP rises to a whopping 78% among male teens.

“Fear of being caught is a strong theoretical deterrent but most pirates believe it’s unlikely they will be prosecuted. If pirates themselves say that a direct warning from their ISP is the most effective measure, then this reinforces current thinking to combat piracy with an ISP strategy,” commented Russell Hart, chief executive, Entertainment Media Research.

The report makes welcome reading for Blu-ray execs, with 24% of respondents indicating an intention to watch movies on a HD format in the next six months. This is at least double the intention rate of any other entertainment activity.

However, the Wiggin survey notes that cost barriers are still blocking the road to growth: 40% of non-owners consider players are too expensive, 35% are awaiting a price reduction before purchase and 22% say movie disks are too expensive.

“Now that all the U.S. majors have committed to Blu-ray, the studios and other home video distributors should now capitalize on this consumer interest by bringing out their major library titles in HD,” suggests Charles Moore, TV and film partner at Wiggin.

The report also reveals consumers’ growing appetite for digesting entertainment content via social networking sites. The major draw: being able to interact with others as the content is streamed or broadcast.

Appetite is apparently as voracious for on-demand programming. Recently released movies (84% definitely or somewhat interested), TV comedies (79%) and live music concerts (72%) rank as the biggest on-demand attractions. Willingness to pay for that content varies considerably. Over half (53%) of those interested in recently released films are willing to pay but just 21% are willing to shell out their greenbacks for TV comedies.

Overall, when confronted with the three options — subscription with unlimited content, PPV and free ad-supported models — the free model wins comprehensively: “70% would rather put up with the ads than pay for the content,” states the report.

The online survey quizzed 1,608 U.K. consumers aged 15-54 in January 2008. The findings will be presented Tuesday in London.

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