The Internet and social media are undoubtedly impacting the way Russia consumes entertainment. With entire films available online and easily viewed on media sites such as Youtube, Rutube, and social networks, logging into a computer or tablet offers the easiest way to watch TV or movies. For these reasons, Russians have grown accustomed to accessing free video content online. It shouldn’t come as a shock that piracy problems persist but a few developments in the past year serve to reduce piracy and still provide easily accessible free online content.
Here’s the before and after of online videos and TV on social networks in the past year:
Russians regularly viewed user-generated content on online media websites and on social networks – much of this content was pirated. While we don’t associate Facebook and other social network sites with licensed media content, Russians log into social media sites such as Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, and Moimir expecting not only to connect with friends but also to watch a movie and catch up on last week’s episode of “Kitchen.”
When Russia passed a strict copyright law in July 2013 intended to stop online piracy, noticeable shifts were seen in the Russian social network world.
As opposed to the user-generated content, social media sites began offering other ways for users to access free content. Social networks now offer licensed content on their sites that includes free TV and cinema services supported by advertising and deals with Russian TV networks.
Odnoklassniki began implementing advertising and offering legal access to films and popular TV series back in December 2013. On Odnoklassniki Russians can search by TV networks, TV series, cartoons, and popular shows. Users may even subscribe to their show of choice to better organize their media interests.
Shortly after these announcements, Vkontakte, which had become Russia’s notorious online pirated media site, made efforts to drop this role and announced its own legal film access for users. Similar to Odnoklassniki, Vkontakte still gives users free online media content supported by advertising. Users can find many films in open VK community pages that include copyrighted content.
Just this May, MoiMir announced it would begin to legally show content from the popular Russian TV station STS (in Russian) that includes shows, films, and series from the trendy TV station. MoiMir’s TV guide encourages users to create lists of shows to watch, some of which air on TV and online. Soon MoiMir will also show content from the TV channel TNT.
The Russian online video and TV market still has a way to go to eradicate piracy issues but social networks have made significant efforts to combat piracy while still satisfying the Russian population’s desire to consume free media online.