Three-Quarters of Russian Internet Users Watch Films Online

Observers see it as an opportunity for content providers, rather than a threat.

MOSCOW – Almost three quarters of Russian Internet users watch movies online, according to a recent survey, which experts say is a new opportunity rather that threat for local film and television producers.

According to the survey, jointly conducted by Movie Research and the public opinion research agency Romir, the proportion of those who watch movies online (72 percent) is considerably higher than that of users who download video content from online sites (54 percent) or local file sharing networks (33 percent), while only eight percent of users neither download nor watch films online.

“This is absolutely an opportunity,” Oleg Ivanov, head of Movie Research, told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the trend has been changing from downloading films toward online watching.

“This is just a new way of delivering content to the user,” he went on to say. “And it could be used for generating revenues.”

According to Ivanov, Russia’s legitimate online services are still in their formative stages, and producers of video content should therefore give them favorable treatment in the short term. “During this year and next, this segment could already report some achievements,” he added.

Meanwhile, the most popular sources for watching films online, according to the survey, are Russia’s largest social networking web site Vkontakte, which, incidentally, has been criticized by rights holders for displaying illegitimate user-generated content (58 percent) and the country’s biggest online video service (30 percent).