TikTok is becoming the marquee platform for movie and TV piracy

Pirated movies takeover TikTok

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The Future. A growing number of TikTok accounts are posting movies and shows in short clips that, through some digging, can be added up to a whole pirated title. Considering TikTok’s popularity and importance for marketing a movie, that’s a major headache for studios. But why people turn to TikTok for watching big-budget films and TV (no need to find something to watch, social engagement) may lead studios to program shuffle-play features and social profiles on their streaming platforms.

Swiped clips
TikTok has a piracy problem.

  • Anonymous accounts are posting movies and shows in two-to-three-minute clips, typically intermixed with other types of videos to avoid getting caught.
  • The clips, which don’t have the name of the movie or show in their descriptions, don’t carry ads and aren’t sponsored posts, but the hosting accounts have amassed thousands of followers and a ton of engagement.
  • Even though most followers are bots, the engagement has made the clips pop up on people’s For You pages, directing more users to check out the pirated content.

Despite many of these accounts not even finishing the pirated movie or episode, they have found fans in young, choice-saturated users who are scrolling through TikTok anyway. Users who frequently watch content on their phones report they like the algorithmic recommendations for what to watch (instead of having to choose something) and enjoy the social aspect of discussing them in the comments.

Those are interesting insights for studios that hope to turn TikTok into another distribution platform (as NBCUniversal is experimenting with using episodes of Killing It and Love Island USA). So, studios may just swallow the copyright violations as users get used to watching big movies on the small screen of TikTok.

Call it Social Pandora’s Box.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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