The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) recently announced a major strike against streaming media piracy by allegedly shutting down Cuevana3, one of the most popular destinations for unauthorized movies and TV shows in Latin America. But will this highly-trafficked site stay down for good? And does it represent a turning point in the fight against online copyright infringement in the region?
The Fall of a Streaming Titan
Cuevana3 established itself over the years as the preeminent streaming piracy hub for Spanish-speaking audiences. According to ACE‘s own internal data, Cuevana3 attracted over 800 million visits across more than 20 domains in just a two-year span. The site consistently ranked as the #1 website in Latin America by traffic volume.
These staggering usage metrics made Cuevana3 a prime target on ACE‘s hit list. The anti-piracy coalition—backed by entertainment giants like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Warner Bros., and many more—recognizes the massive revenue losses media companies face from unauthorized streaming. By one estimate, over $7 billion is lost annually to piracy in Latin America alone.
Taking down a platform of Cuevana‘s scale and popularity represents ACE‘s biggest victory to date in their mission to combat streaming piracy around the globe. "The largest Spanish-language piracy streamer in Latin America is no more," declared ACE Head Jan van Voorn.
A Familiar Game of Whack-a-Mole
However, this remains far from a definitive knockout blow. ACE played a version of domain whack-a-mole with Cuevana3 last year by seizing their cuevana3.io address, only to see the site reemerge at cuevana3.me.
And already some reports indicate that numerous Cuevana3 sites are still active in the wake of this latest round of seizures, without redirecting to ACE‘s anti-piracy portal:
Streaming piracy constantly adapts to evade enforcement, much like the mythological hydra which grew two heads for every one cut off. History has shown that whenever one major piracy site falls, others inevitably rise up to take its place.
Following the shutdowns of piracy giants like Megaupload, KickassTorrents and YIFY, their successors emerged stronger than ever, whittling away at studios‘ revenues. ACE disabled Latin America‘s top piracy platform Popcorn Time in early 2021, but piracy engagement in the region remains higher than anywhere else in the world according to a recent study.
Piracy‘s Staying Power
In 2021 alone, 63% of streaming viewers in Latin America used illicit services. Consumers flock to unauthorized platforms for the unbeatable value proposition: endless on-demand content available free of charge. With rampant poverty limiting entertainment budgets, streaming piracy fills a market demand that legal options have yet to satisfy.
VPNs and proxy services further allow determined viewers to bypass blocked piracy sites. ACE has focused on pressuring regional governments and ISPs to shut down access. But as long as consumer incentives remain unchanged, piracy will continue thriving through whatever means necessary.[insert data table comparing prices/library size between Netflix LATAM vs. Cuevana3]
Adapt or Die: Embracing the Challenge
Rather than relying on suppression tactics, stakeholders across Latin America‘s entertainment sector must rethink content delivery models to compete with piracy‘s appeal. Some suggestions:
- Offer flexible micro-payment options for cost-conscious consumers
- Pursue partnerships with telecoms to bundle content with existing services
- Launch discounted localized versions of global streaming platforms
- Invest in Spanish-language original programming
- Provide offline access to content in underconnected regions
The Long Road Ahead
While ACE‘s latest actions have cut off a major piracy pipeline, plenty more work remains to steer viewers towards legitimate alternatives. Success will require extralegal strategies centered around affordability, accessibility, and diversity of content.
Only by making legal streaming more enticing than piracy can the entertainment industry truly win over the hearts, minds and wallets of Latin American audiences. Knocking out platforms like Cuevana3 makes for splashy headlines—but lasting victory depends on making piracy irrelevant.