News, Press 4 Min Read

New Pandemic Stimulus Bill Makes Illegal Streaming a Felony

Written by Melissa Yap

2020 Has Been Streaming TV’s Year

There’s no doubt that Connected TV has been a big winner to come out of this year’s events, however as the industry grows, lawmakers are also taking notice and putting into place new restrictions. The latest COVID-19 relief bill has a new provision, which classifies streaming as a felony – with penalties including up to 10 years in prison and files of up to $30,000.

SteelHouse CEO, Mark Douglas, appeared on Stuart Varney’s FOX Business segment, to further clarify this provision and give his take on what this means for the big players in the industry.

What is ‘Illegal Streaming?’

“It’s almost better defined by what it’s not. One caveat here is illegal streaming for commercial profit. Illegal streaming is when you take movies and other content, and put this on the Internet in order for people to consume without paying for them. It’s something that used to be a lot more prevalent in the past, but with all the streaming services now and the low prices, it’s pretty easy to get content at low prices.” explains Douglas.

How Does this Affect the Two Leaders of Streaming?

Douglas classifies both Netflix and Disney+ as the two leaders in the space, but seem to come out unscathed on the other side. “Netflix has very liberal account sharing – and encourage it, but this bill does not cover account sharing in any way. Disney has rocketed to almost 100 Million subscribers, and if you take out COVID, their stock price has essentially doubled.” He also forecasts a strong future for the latter, based on a strong rebound from the effects of the virus on advertising spend – combined with the eventual reopening of parks. However, there is one laggard that struggles to catch up, and that’s AT&T.

“They bought assets and bundled plans to give you access to other content, but they have not done a good job of turning that into a coherent streaming offering and are far behind where Disney and Netflix is. Cable is on the decline,” Douglas explains.