Lack of legal online choice resulting in TV piracy, says Spotify executive

Pascal de Mul

Pascal de Mul

TV viewers are still turning to piracy when they can’t access online content legally, with the situation similar to the rampant filesharing that previously plagued the music industry, according to Spotify’s global head of platform partnerships, Pascal De Mul.

Speaking at the OTTtv World Summit in London, De Mul said he was “not sure” that a Spotify-style online service for the TV industry was the future for programmed content online, but said “some parallels exist” between the music and TV industries.

“Spotify was created in Sweden, which was, at the time that Spotify started, about the most piracy-heavy country in the world. It was the country where Pirate Bay started, where U-Torrent was created. There was rampant piracy. So it’s not a coincidence that in that country, a lot of people decided that that is not good for the music industry and we need to have something better,” said De Mul.

“They made Spotify more convenient than piracy, and that’s the reason it became successful, in my view. I think a parallel with TV is that… there are these frustrating moments where you want to watch a certain show and it’s not available – especially if you’re European.”

As an example De Mul said that currently in the Netherlands, season two of AMC drama Breaking Bad is currently on air on TV, with no legal alternative to watch more up-to-date episodes online – almost two months after the show’s season five finale aired in the US.

“I’m not saying that I would resort to piracy, but I think that a big share of the audience would actually do that. They want to watch something when they want to, and I don’t think that people expect to have to respect the content industry that decides that for them,” said De Mul.

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