How Do Illegal Movie Websites Make Money? [Case Study]

movies website make money

Do you know how pirated movie websites make money?

Here I have done a case study on pirated movie websites and found some interesting facts about them.

To start my research on this topic, I did several things.

  • Read articles on anti-piracy websites.
  • Researched top famous movie websites and their stats.

Pirated movie sites are operated on a large scale globally, and in every country, you will find many sites that serve pirated content. They get more than 230 billion views per year which are increasing. Due to this increase in piracy, many jobs are lost each year.

There are strict laws for it, but hardly someone gets arrested.

Almost everyone has watched a movie on any pirated site knowingly or unknowingly once in their life but do you know how much it affects the economy?

Not only movie and tv content but any content available on the internet have its pirated version.

I will not disclose the name of any movie or torrent site; if I do so, I may be promoting them indirectly.

Stats about movies and videos piracy that you should know

There are shocking and exciting stats about pirated movie websites that you should read.

  • A movie is pirated within 24 hours of its theatrical release.
  • Most pirated movies are copied using a high-definition camera by recording them.
  • The movies are copied and uploaded to other websites using specific file-downloading software.
  • On average, pirated websites upload content at least 2-3 times daily.
  • Half a million jobs are lost due to piracy in the world.
  • Avatar is the most pirated movie available online, with 21 million hits.[Cnbc]
  • The USA is at the top for watching pirated content, Russia is second, and India is third for downloading and watching movies illegally.

How do illegal movie websites make money?

Movie downloading and streamings sites are illegal to create, but they make the most money too. Popular movie-downloading websites make about $1000- $5000 with average traffic of 20K – 50K.

Movie websites use display ads, popup ads, and affiliate marketing to earn money by sharing copyrighted content. Below you can read about the monetization methods on these websites in detail.


Almost every website has these ads, which are annoying and lower the user experience. However, these ads pay more even with less traffic, as the click rate of these ads is relatively high compared to other display ad platforms.

Getting approval on popup ads is easy. Pirated websites use it on their download button as the best thing to use for conversion and call to action.

Display advertisement

Their blog post contains high CPC keywords, and you see ads from a top bidder. In return, they earn a good amount of money.

Using AdSense and premium ad networks is not possible on movie websites. To earn from display ads, they started using creating blogs and fill it will contain.

Similar to pop-up ads, they put links in the download button of their movie link. When someone clicks on it, they get redirected to their blog and wait about 10-20 seconds for the download button to appear(this is done using an HTML code). After some time, the actual link appears.


Affiliate marketing is also a great way to monetize the movie website. They use various entertainment-based products directly from the manufacturers.

Sometimes if the movie websites are popular, they get approached by some companies to promote their product.

Pay-per-view video services

Movie streaming sites use pay-per-view video services. They upload a movie file and embed the HTML video code on their site. Users see ads while consuming the content online when they visit the site, just like what we do on youtube.

Why do these types of movie site are not blacklisted quickly?

Movie websites that have copyrighted content do not host it. Yes, that is true. It means they use only links on their main website and keep the content on third-party hosting servers. Due to this, they do not violet many search engine policies, mainly google.

In the above image, you can see a site disclaimer. This is an online free movie downloading and streaming site that constantly updates the new content(Movies, Tv series) when released. Still, when you read the disclaimer, they mentioned not violating the policies, and the content they publish is for education only. Now that’s funny.

You can see it on every illegal movie site. This type of description is mentioned.

How is a movie site removed from search engines?

Keeping third-party links is the factor that a movie site is not blacklisted from search engines. However, many production houses keep an eye on these websites, claiming copyright, and their site gets blocklisted.

DMCA –  Digital Millennium Copyright Act is part of US copyright law. If a platform uploads content that it does not own and has copyright reserves, the content, platfrom, or IP address can be blocked or removed from the internet.

Is this the end?

You may think that is the end, but not until the guy who created the website is behind bars. If the person running the site is not caught, he will duplicate the website.

No, in this process, the primary name of the website remains the same, but the top-level domain name is changed. Here are some examples.

  • this is blocklisted, the TLD is changed)

Most popular movie streaming and downloading sites and platforms.

Here I will not mention the exact domain name because I don’t want to promote any website that promotes piracy. However, you can block them if your child or any family member uses them to watch and download movies.

  • Piratebay.
  • Fbox.
  • 123movies.
  • Azmovies.
  • Katmovies.
  • Pikashow.
  • Khatrimaza.
  • Movieshub.
  • Movies2watch.

How do movie websites get copyrighted content?

Getting content on pirated websites is easy. One copy of a movie file is present on almost every website.

To get this content, the people behind these websites do things like.

  • Record the movie using an HD camera in a movie theater and upload it on their website.
  • Download files from OTT platforms and put them on their site.
  • Copy Blu-ray disk and DVDs and use.
  • In rare cases, an inside man of the production leaks the movie and sells it on pirated sites.

Pirated site’s movie qualities

There are six types of qualities available on illegal movie sites.

  • Bluray – copied from an original blu ray disk.
  • HD – downloaded from ott platforms.
  • SD – low-resolution video file.
  • HD-Cam – content recorded using an expensive cam.
  • TS – copied from streaming video.
  • Cam – recorded using a regular camera such as a smartphone.

These practices are done on every illegal movie site and store this data on third-party video streaming sites.

Why do people create pirated movie websites?

There are over 5 billion internet users in the world. And almost each one of them watches online content.

That is the main reason why people create pirated movie sites. Their main priority is to earn money, and pirated movie sites get tons of visitors each month.

If too many people are on a website, monetizing and earning money becomes relatively easy. The most visited platform for piracy is a pirate bay, which earns more than $4 million per year.

People also visit these websites as they get free content from them.

How to stop movie piracy?

There are many ways in which video piracy can be stopped. Most can be done using software, and the rest can be done using physical things.

  • In movie theaters, infrared lights can be used pointing toward the audience, so the video cannot be recorded. All it will capture is white light.
  • Making streaming players more secure so that the videos on it cannot be downloaded easily.
  • Blocking pirated websites online using solid algorithms. But this can be done by the government or big tech companies.


Watching pirated movies illegally should not be encouraged, but the harsh reality is that everyone does it because it’s free. If a solid solution is not invented fast, movies and online video content will be misused like this.

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Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey

Hi, I am Manish Pandey, this blog's author and content writer. I primarily focus on content related to Digital Marketing, Blogging, and SEO. I have been blogging since 2017 and have over 5+ years of experience. Hope I will try to put some helpful content for you.

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