Pirated DVD business struggles amid streaming trend in Indonesia

/ 06:13 PM January 07, 2019

Numbered days: People browse DVDs at the ITC Fatmawati commerce center in Jakarta on Friday. THE JAKARTA POST

JAKARTA — Several years back, movie buffs in Jakarta knew how to catch up with the latest episodes of their favorite TV series or box office movie: by going to pirated DVD sellers mushrooming in the city.

Now, in the era of streaming, which offers a more practical way to watch movies, the shops selling pirated DVDs are struggling to attract customers.


Just two years ago, such shops could be found throughout the city, in shopping centers such as the famous Glodok in West Jakarta, ITC Kuningan and Mall Ambassador in South Jakarta, Mangga Dua Square in North Jakarta as well as tucked away near bus terminals and in residential areas.

The vendors sell a wide collection of movies and TV series for as little as Rp 8,000 (56 US cents) per disk.


These shops have raised eyebrows, as they thrive on copyright infringements yet keep running openly despite occasional police raids. However, some of these vendors are shutting their doors now, not because of their questionable legal status, but because the business no longer guarantees the huge profits it used to.

Sofyan, 27, whose father’s DVD shop still survives on Jl. Palmerah Barat in West Jakarta, said a number of similar shops in the area had closed down recently. “The number of my competitors may have declined, but the selling power [of pirated DVDs] remains low,” he told The Jakarta Post at the shop on Friday.

He said he had seen fewer customers since 2017, as people opted for online streaming services, including legal streaming platforms Netflix, iFlix and Viu, which provide a wide collection of movies and TV series at the affordable price of around Rp 150,000 per month.

Besides the legal services, many people now also opt to turn to illegal streaming and download websites.

He acknowledged that people now resorted to such practical services, as internet access was no longer a luxury.

“I only earn Rp 50,000 a day now. When the business was at its peak in 2011 and 2012, I would earn up to Rp 700,000 a day,” he said, adding that the profit from the shop used to cover his education fees back then.

To maintain his current customers, he sells the DVDs at a slightly lower price of Rp 7,000 a piece, while adapting his range of movies and TV shows to customer preferences — which means lots of Hollywood action and South Korean series.


The mood is similarly gloomy at the ITC Kuningan shopping center, which used to house dozens of such DVD shops. Many shops have closed down recently, leaving only four open, according to the shopkeeper of one of the shops, who did not want to be named.

“They probably no longer see the business as profitable,” he said.

His shop mainly sells South Korean TV series, which he said were a favorite among his customers and helped maintain the business. The shop also applied a special offer (buy eight and get two for free) to attract customers. He conceded that online streaming services had slowed down his business.

Another shopkeeper who refused to be named said many shops selling pirated DVDs had closed down at ITC Kuningan, as they could no longer afford the hefty rent.

The news of the shops closing down came as a surprise to former customer Lariza Oky Adisty, 29, who said ITC Kuningan used to have many such shops on every floor. However, she acknowledged that online streaming services had drawn movie fans including herself away from DVDs.

“I have never bought pirated DVDs since I subscribed to Netflix. It is way more practical, and the video quality is good,” she said.

Another Netflix subscriber, Astari Laksmiwati, 32, said she too used to hunt for pirated DVDs to watch the latest movies or TV series. Now, though, online streaming services provided access to a wider collection of movies and TV series at affordable prices, she said.

“I prefer using Netflix, as the collection of movies and TV series is well-curated. I can watch movies and series from foreign countries that I cannot find anywhere else,” Astari said.

However, anime fan Nyoman Gede, 29, who has been buying pirated DVDs for more than a decade, begged to differ.

“Watching movies on a DVD player creates a different sensation. I think it is also way simpler than streaming,” Nyoman said.

(USD 1 = IDR 14,269)

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