Illegal streaming websites spike in popularity


Many websites stream pirated movies and television shows, creating competition with legal streaming websites. Graphic by Hannah Kang

As of 2021, numerous illegal websites have received increased amounts of attention compared to previous years. These websites stream both media that has yet to be released in theaters along with already released movies and television shows, all for free. 

Due to the media being displayed illegally, these websites have been shut down on multiple occasions. If caught, those using these websites may face a fine of $750 or more. Not only is there a possibility of being fined, but those using these websites are at risk of receiving a virus on their device. 

Such websites include soap2day, myflixer, 123movies and many more. has previously experienced the most amount of disservice to viewers. Certain lower-quality videos can also be found under false names on sites like YouTube and DailyMotion.

“I used because it’s easier to access and movie theaters can be dangerous right now due to COVID-19,” John Doe* said.

The main goal of these illegal websites is to attract viewers of a specific age. Many of these viewers range from the age of 15 and 20. Teens are so attached to new media and releases that they will do anything to get their hands on upcoming movies or shows. 

What draws many teens to this website is its endless options of online media streaming. Teenagers are able to view several different films, including their favorite TV shows and movies, via these websites free of charge prior to some even being released. 

“I wanted to watch that particular movie but couldn’t find anywhere to watch it without paying for it, so the illegal website was the way to go,” John Doe* said. 

Although many people view this website as a scam, others see it as a free streaming platform.  

Others visit these websites in an act of protests to boycott harmful media being released. Those streaming the media in theaters are supporting the harmful media by paying to watch it while viewers pirating these movies offer no support by streaming it illegally with no cost. 

With streaming services becoming more popular and gaining in numbers, these illegal streaming sites become more popular; people cannot have every sight without the total cost adding up, so they see illegal streaming as a way to work around that. 

I don’t feel that it was wrong [to use an illegal website], because the movie or tv show was already released just not on a platform that I had access to,” Robert Row* said.

Word of these websites is being spread through social media. Social media has been very influential in gaining these websites’ support as teens began to cancel their subscriptions to streaming platforms and instead rely heavily on these illegal websites.

Many prefer these illegal websites to legal streaming platforms as most require an overpriced subscription as for these illegal websites, the media displayed comes with no cost. Users do not find streaming these movies illegally to be immoral as they were already released on a platform just one that they had no access to nor were they familiar with.

Others may argue that these multi-million-dollar streaming companies do not need any more money than they already have. Although official streaming websites are easier to come across and access, many choose to stream illegally rather than pay a larger cost. 

Surprisingly, these illegal websites offer much more than well-known streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu. These illegal websites have released that are no longer shown on other platforms which is why these websites draw more attention than you think they do.

Another reason people tend to watch things illegally is that the content they are looking for is only available in older formats like DVDs or reruns. Certain older shows and movies aren’t digital unless else someone uploaded them to the internet.

The same goes for content not available in the United States. Movies have been released in other countries prior to their American release dates and within hours people can watch them online. Shows that originate from other countries can be harder to find on official American streaming sites, so finding them elsewhere is the only option.

While still being illegal, these websites have a lot to offer including early release dates, a variety of different films, as well as being cost-free. Compared to the normal air time of legal websites, media may come out months in advance. 

*Names indicated have been changed to preserve the student’s privacy