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Netflix UK’s Rick and Morty blunder shows why piracy is still relevant

After a long waiting period, Rick and Morty Season 3 officially began airing in the US late last month. At the time, Netflix announced that its UK subscribers would get new episodes of this season every week, the day after it airs in the US. Unfortunately, Netflix didn’t plan for the fact that this season’s first episode originally aired months ago, on April 1st. So when US fans got to watch episode 2, Netflix UK customers were stuck with episode 1. It’s an unfortunate situation but it also symbolises why piracy is still so relevant today.

On the internet, you have the ability to reach an audience across the globe. So when episode two of Rick and Morty began airing in the US, you can bet that fans of the show across the world heard all about it. They saw the gifs, the reviews, the reactions, all of it. Meanwhile, those same non-US fans couldn’t enjoy the episode they kept hearing about- at least not through legal means.

Therein lies the problem. Nobody wants to miss out on being part of the zeitgeist and for whatever reason, companies still don’t get it.

Rick and Morty’s premiere episode for season 3 was being shared worldwide on Facebook the day after it aired. It was also being shared worldwide on torrent sites and streaming sites. To think that nobody outside of the US saw that episode back in April would be naive to say the least. And yet, Netflix UK’s deal for Rick and Morty season 3 doesn’t reflect that reality at all, it assumes nobody in the UK heard about or saw that episode back when it originally aired, despite the fact that it was trending worldwide.

Right now, new episodes of Rick and Morty can be found in the ‘popular downloads’ section of most major public torrent sites. It’s not just a few thousand people downloading these episodes weekly either, it’s tens of thousands spread across different sites. That’s not even taking into account those streaming instead, via services like Popcorn Time or through Kodi boxes.

Rick and Morty isn’t a unique case either. Game of Thrones is still consistently the most pirated show on TV each year and while legal alternatives in the UK have gotten better, that can’t be said for the rest of the world.

It’s 2017 and piracy is still most definitely a service problem. Progress is being made but until services like Netflix can reliably secure global streaming rights and implement proper simulcasting with the US, torrenting and illegal streaming is still going to be a popular solution for many around the world.

KitGuru Says: How many of you still regularly need to resort to piracy in order to stay up to date with popular shows? How long would you be willing to wait to watch something after it airs in the US? 

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  • The Duke

    What annoys me is that America have amazing streaming sites like VUDU, where you can stream the latest UHD 4k HDR movies, in high quality, with lossless audio formats such as dolby atmos and DTSX but in the UK you get Netflix and amazon which are, quite frankly, terrible quality compared to 4K bluray.
    I’d happily pay £50 a month for all the movies, music and games I could consume. Probably more.
    It would need to be amazing quality though but none in the UK can provide this service!
    These companies moan about piracy but they do it to themselves.
    Applying a little common sense and syncing release dates around the world would also help reduce piracy but the copyright holders never seem to learn by their mistakes.
    MP3’s and streaming sites sound worse than CD’s.
    4K streaming sites are worse quality than blu-ray.
    Adding all the HDCP 2.2 DRM and making everyone upgrade their TV’s. Amps, bluray players, PCs, Streaming boxes and it still all gets cracked/pirated anyway!
    They are fighting this war on piracy from the wrong angle and that is why they are getting nowhere with it.

  • Lucas

    Part of the problem is that millions of people feel entitled to the content without paying for it. They will keep downloading, no matter the alternative.

    Of course, that’s not to say that content producers can’t handle things better. But let’s not create the illusion that it’ll ever go away. Pirating is and will remain a massive industry, because plenty of people are just cheap aholes, who aren’t willing to pay for services they use that others provide. Leeches and parasites, nothing more.

  • Steven Morrison

    well said, that man

  • Gaz Wkd

    The easier content is made avaliable through legal avenues the less pirating will happen. On demand stuff for a decent price is going to look enticing even to pirates.

  • DukeBorric

    It’s believing that they are cheap aholes that is part of the problem. I pay a hefty amount for TV subscription and will admit to occasionally pirating shows because they are shown in America but I have to wait weeks or months to view in the UK, trying to avoid spoilers for that long is very tiresome.

  • Lucas

    No, it is accepting that they are cheap assholes that is part of the solution. Publishers are too much concerned with a group of people that will never pay for it and will always find a way to get their stuff for free, illegally. Instead of wasting enormous amounts of time and money trying to prevent that, publishers should simply improve the service for those people who are willing to pay.

    And I really have no sympathy for people who complain about spoilers. You don’t pay for the content, you are not legally or divinely entitled to watching it spoiler-free. It’s a product, and your dumb luck is that you just happen to live in the wrong country.

  • Lucas

    Yes, because if there is a free option everybody in the whole world will choose the paid service. Please. Piracy didn’t just arise because downloading was more convenient than buying. It’s because people wanted to play hundreds of games, listen to all the music, and watch all the movies, but couldn’t pay all the moneys. Products weren’t overpriced, they were generally valued fairly. But free beats not free. I’m guilty of this too; pirated for years as a kid, and even in undergrad. Simply because I wanted services I couldn’t afford.

    I literally said that producers can handle it better. But stop holding on to the illusion that piracy is gonna go anywhere. The more time and money is wasted on piracy, the less there is for good consumer services.

  • Daniel Mazel-Tov

    Hey Guy’s we stream live from our group every episode. Thousands of people watching it together, it’s honestly awesome. https://www.facebook.com/groups/squanchposting

  • Gaz Wkd

    You clearly didn’t understand what I was saying. I never, at any time, said pirating would disappear – of course, it won’t. However, a hell of a lot of people do it due to lack of access to what they want quickly and easily.

    If for example, Netflix enabled you to access all the content you want for a decent enough price then a lot would leave pirating alone – not everyone but a fair amount.

  • Lucas

    And since you’re basically paraphrasing what I’ve said twice now, neither did you 🙂

  • MONGO_abaday

    If the content isn’t avaible for you to get via legal means for an extended period. I.e. waiting a month after the release in another country then there is a far higher chance you will turn to illegal streaming like Duke said. As you want to watch the content that everyone else has already watched and is talking about but there is no means avaible your region to legally watch it. Yet as it has already aired legally elsewhere in the world you may come accross spoilers too easily on social media etc.
    Living in another well connected country should no longer affect when something is released. The argument is that if tv content was liceneced globally at the same time rather than staggered throughout the world there would be a lesser number of people turning to illegally streaming shows and movies due to a) being able to enjoy the content straightaway b) not having to try and avoid spoilers before watching it themselves

  • Lucas

    Again, I don’t dispute any of this. I got annoyed coming back from living in the UK, not being able to continue the shows I started watching. The same when I got back from living in the US. I’ve said and agreed time and again that better service will lead to less piracy—it’s obviously part of the reason I don’t pirate anymore—but high prices and bad service do not license piracy.

    Turning to illegal streaming or downloading is your choice. People should take some responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming others.

    And really, avoiding spoilers is not as hard as it is made out to be.