by Thinus Ferreira
Online TV pirates are outwitting, outplaying and outlasting the latest 9th season of Survivor South Africa on M-Net, after they instantly captured and have since been downloading and sharing episodes from right after the broadcast debut of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts last week as part of DStv's premium pay-TV content offering.
In June 2021 it still took just over a day but less than two, for the first episode of the 8th season, entitled Survivor SA: Immunity Island, to find its way to the internet through illegally uploaded copies, followed by the rest of the season's episodes.
This year - and as M-Net switched Survivor SA to 4 episodes per week - the pirating process was even quicker.
The first episode of Survivor South Africa: Return of the Outcasts made its pirate debut last week online on Monday night, mere hours after it started its premiere linear broadcast run on M-Net (DStv 101) on Monday evening.
TVwithThinus won't mention any pirate sites offering the episodes but checked the validity and quality of the uploaded and shared episodes of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts online which pirates are making available for direct download as well as torrents.
These digital downloads of episodes and torrents of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts are of pristine quality - high-definition (HD) episodes, with clear video and audio, without any watermarks and without any M-Net or other corner channel marker logos.
After less than 5 minutes of searching online, TVwithThinus last week found that a popular file-sharing site that hosts content and files as a free cloud storage service, already had the first episode of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts on offer to downloaders around the world within hours - and even quicker than last year.
The web address of this folder as well as the password is freely shared in online message boards for South African and global viewers who are now watching and following the show in droves online but who are bypassing DStv and M-Net. This is just one site and one cloud storage service folder containing the pirated content.
All of the other available episodes so far - produced by Afrokaans and meant for MultiChoice's DStv Premium subscribers who are paying the most for access to M-Net's content as its flagship pay-TV channel - have been uploaded and shared for download or torrenting.
Besides M-Net, Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts is also being shown simultaneously on Australia's 10play, the live-stream and catch-up service of that country's Network Ten commercial TV channel.
M-Net and Irdeto, MultiChoice's broadcast encryption technology division, say that pirating TV content damages the TV industry and they are now investigating the matter after being made aware of it.
M-Net was asked where pirates find the versions of Survivor SA episodes and if it is from South African or Australian sources, why Survivor SA is specifically targeted by pirates, and also what M-Net is doing, or able to do to prevent or remove pirated content online.
M-Net didn't answer any of the specific questions but in response to the media query sent TVwithThinus the same statement it did last year, saying "Survivor is a global phenomenon and in recent years the South African version has gained vast popularity among fans abroad".
"M-Net was made aware of the illegal downloading and sharing of the series and we are investigating the matter."
"M-Net strongly condemns our content being pirated in any format. Piracy negatively impacts the development of the local television and film industries and undermines the investment of broadcasters and sponsors. We encourage viewers to report illegal downloads or streaming to firstname.lastname@example.org".