'Stranger Things' screenshot
[Screenshot via Netflix]

Digital piracy is apparently on the rise thanks to the wealth of exclusive programs on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Amazon, a new study finds. Is “BitTorrent and chill” the new “Netflix and chill?”

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That may be the case for many, according to the in-depth look released Tuesday that was condensed in a blog post by Cam Cullen, a marketing VP at networking equipment company Sandvine, and reported by at Polygon.

Usage of torrent apps such as BitTorrent are up by almost 10 percent in the last three years. And that’s following a four-year plummet in U.S.-based torrenting from 2011-2015. The recent surge is due to exclusive shows, the study says.

“More sources than ever are producing ‘exclusive’ content available on a single streaming or broadcast service,” writes Cullen. “Think Game Of Thrones for HBO, House Of Cards for Netflix, The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu” and more.

And that’s where things get a little bit sticky for viewers, since singing up for all of the aforementioned streaming or broadcast services “gets very expensive for a consumer, so they subscribe to one or two and pirate the rest.” Sound familiar?

The problem’s only set to worsen with time. Apple, Disney and more are all getting into the streaming game. But Disney CEO Bob Iger tells The Hollywood Reporter that his company’s service will be based on quality, not quantity.

“They’re a volume play with a lot of quality within their volume,” Iger says of Netflix. “And we’re going to be a quality play with enough volume and enough scale to provide the consumer with a good price-to-value relationship.”

As Cullen adds, making a quality show that finds popularity with viewers is also a double-edged sword. A popular program will only drive people’s anxiousness to catch a new episode, causing them to torrent instead of waiting for the broadcast.

Yet, for now, it certainly doesn’t look like streaming exclusivity is going anywhere. Case in point: Game Of Thrones continues to be the most-pirated TV show, year after year, as recently pointed out in an article by Mashable.

What do you think about this apparent uptick in digital piracy thanks to various providers’ exclusive content? Have you ever watched a pirated version of a Netflix, Hulu or HBO show? Sound off in the comments section, below.

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