Australians who download pirated TV shows, movies and music are actually more likely to spend money on media subscription services and legitimate downloads according to new research from Choice.
Despite what may be a counter-intuitive finding, the consumer group says it points towards the increasing demands of Australians for content on demand.
The Choice survey found that "the majority of Australians never download, stream or watch pirated TV shows and movies", but that 33 percent have 'illegally' downloaded or streamed content online.
However, almost half of pirates (49 percent) say they pay for content more than they pirate, while only 8 percent say they never pay at all.
The Choice research also indicates that pirates are big consumers of content more generally.
According to the findings, "People who pirate at least monthly are more likely to pay for content through an iTunes or Apple TV subscription...[and] pirates are also more likely to have a Quickflix account".
Almost a third of pirates (29 percent) pay for additional content through iTunes, compared to 16 percent of the general population. Pirates are also more than twice as likely to have a Quickflix account compared to the general population.
"This data shows that most Australians who pirate are even more willing to spend money on content than those who don't pirate," said Choice Director of Campaigns and Communications, Matt Levey. "Some people have suggested we're a nation of pirates but Choice has found we're a nation of couch potatoes who seek out content, online and off."
Levey said the research also shows that "a substantial proportion of people are pirating because of the high cost of content in Australia" and because of delays in local release dates. Price and timeliness were cited as reasons for pirating by 50 percent and 41 percent of respondents respectively.
"The content industry says they've changed but we keep seeing ridiculous delays to get popular TV and movies to Australia," he said. "The internet has made it easier than ever to access content quickly, providers need to catch up.
"There is a strong perception among pirates that content in Australia is more expensive than overseas. Given pirates are already willing to pay for content from Australian providers, giving them an easier way to access cheaper, legitimate content from overseas would help reduce the rates of piracy."
While it says it "does not support or condone piracy", Choice has been pushing for a number of measures to reduce the problem in Australia, including making a submission to the Competition Policy Review recommending reducing prices and allowing consumers to legally circumvent geoblocks.