One explanation could be the site’s age; at just over two years old, it’s possible that established sites are considered more of a priority.
Another factor could be that Zoro.to focuses on Japanese anime rather than mainstream Hollywood movies. But with over 205 million visits per month, all mainstream movie piracy sites are left behind in a cloud of dust double their size.
Based on average traffic levels reported by SimilarWeb, Zoro.to should receive over six million visits today alone. Those visitors are in for a surprise because starting a few hours ago, Zoro.to unexpectedly ceased to exist.
Zoro.to is Dead, Aniwatch.to Takes Over
Visitors to the Zoro.to domain are currently redirected to a new one; Aniwatch.to. The transition is seamless via a redirect, but the culture shock shouldn’t be too great for former Zoro.to users. Old logins appear to work on the new domain and apart from a new color scheme, the design is very familiar indeed.
User reactions to the sudden change range from “nooooo what did they do to my boy zoro” to “WHAT THE **** IS ANIWATCH????” The most predictable center around a common theme: “why zoro turn into aniwatch?”
As questions go, that’s a good one.
Zoro.to Was “Acquired” By a New Dev Team
Pirate sites are known for moving to new domains. Domain seizures or suspensions can often play a part in sudden changes, but domain jumping has served two additional purposes more recently. Anti-piracy groups have spoken of the difficulties domain jumping can cause during investigations, but the second relates to search engine visibility.
Receiving too many DMCA notices can cause Google to derank sites from search results, but in this case it appears that the Zoro.to domain hasn’t yet reached the threshold. At the time of writing, Google reports the removal of around 43,700 URLs and it’s rumored that 50,000 may be the limit. A new domain may have been required shortly anyway but the reasons for today’s switch are reportedly different.
In response to some Zoro.to users having a meltdown over the domain and palette changes, a staff member explained that there is no need to panic over a management issue.
“Everyone calm down, Zoro is acquired by a new dev team, they will now handle the whole website and social network accounts. Do not worry, all the data will remain the same, the old staff will keep supporting the server. Thank you,” the message reads.
There Are Things Users Don’t Need to Know
On the basis that telling users anything about internal site operations is always a terrible idea, a couple of decades of history show that announcements like this one aren’t intended to provide useful updates to pirates. More likely than not, this is a message intended for those who would prefer to see Zoro.to consigned to history and already had a plan in place for that to happen.
Whether the cosmetic changes on display here will make much difference to the future of Aniwatch.to will remain to be seen, but it’s certainly possible that this move hasn’t been at the serious planning stage for very long. Activity on the new domain dates back around three months but development work related to the new domain/site that wasn’t secured from public view only dates back around 72 hours.
Tip of the Iceberg
The final factor worth mentioning is the large number of sites in operation today that look very much like zoro/aniwatch and have broadly the same functionality. These operate from separate domains but as a sample of just four shows, originality appears to be a problem.
The reason that so many of these similar-looking sites exist is pretty straightforward. The days of having to make your own site and obtain content from somewhere are well and truly gone.
Today it’s simply a case of buying a template, installing the script on a server, and waiting for thousands of movies to be pumped through as part of the package.
Of course, it’s not ideal for lots of sites to rely on a third party to supply all of the content; if that entity bites the dust, it’s game over.
But while it was game over for Zoro.to this morning, the appearance of Aniwatch.to shows that when a situation requires creativity, solutions are never too far away. That also applies to advertising; Zoro reportedly didn’t have too many ads but complaints about the rebranded platform are already coming in.
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.