US BitTorrent traffic decline credited to legal alternatives

By on May 28, 2012, 2:00 PM

BitTorrent usage is on the decline in the US largely as a result of consumers having access to legal online content options. This trend isn’t echoed in other parts of the world where access to legal content is either restricted or delayed significantly.

A new report from Sandvine (PDF) shows that BitTorrent traffic has dropped to just 12.7 percent in the US during peak hours. This is down from 17.3 percent last year but as TorrentFreak points out, these numbers don’t account for the fact that traffic in general has increased. Even still, the results show that BitTorrent traffic has seen very little to no growth during the past year.

BitTorrent traffic in Europe accounted for 20.32 percent of all Internet traffic during peak hours with file sharing client eDonkey adding another 9.39 percent to the traffic tally. In fact, P2P traffic has quadrupled in the past 18 months. In the Asia-Pacific region, BitTorrent accounts for close to 30 percent of the aggregate Internet traffic and a whopping 43.89 percent of upstream traffic.

“We see higher levels of P2P filesharing than in many other regions, at least partially due to geographical licensing challenges that restrict the availability of legitimate Real-Time Entertainment services,” according to the report.

The theory that legal options are curbing BitTorrent use in the US can be backed up by looking at the ever-increasing traffic share of Netflix. The streaming company was responsible for 32.9 percent of downstream Internet traffic in the first half of 2012, a slight increase over last year and roughly 12 percent higher than the same time period in 2010.

Competitor Hulu also saw significant gains in the past six months, climbing to 1.6 percent of overall traffic. YouTube traffic grew from 11.3 percent to 13.8 percent in the same six month period.

If nothing else, this data illustrates that consumers aren’t just out to get media without paying for it. Consumers just want to consume and will largely pick a trusted, paid source over an illegal method. It’s just a matter of time before the entertainment industry picks up on this trend in other parts of the world.




User Comments: 14

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Tygerstrike said:

LMAO!!! All this is showing me personally is that when you take away the illegal options all you do is force ppl to pay. File sharing in its most simple form is a great idea, its groups like MPAA RIAA and the US Govt. who dont want file sharing. They want their piece of the dollar like everyone else.

Lurker101 said:

Good to see BBC iPlayer in there

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What I find disturbing is that this seems like such a big deal. That introspectively tells us that Big Media doesn't have a clue what they are doing against piracy. They believe forcing users to their way is what works. This is just reflection of what Steam is doing, for instance; Gabe has said numerous times that the only thing you have to do is offer your customers superior value when they go get and use your content. Publishing, licensing, trademarking restrictions, international blocks and what have you, do nothing but limit the freedom of both choosing and consuming content.

Exclusivity losses its usefulness when it limits the options of the now-always-connected consumer. Granted, they are businesses, so its not like they are all going to merge an share the profits, but being more open and lenient when making entertainment content available, making it a better value over pirating is better than any holding off of content, DRM, etc. will ever do.

Essentially, what I am saying is this is not rocket science. The fact that Sandvine and other companies have to formulate these reports, and that websites like TorrentFreak report them so that big media can be enlightened as to what factors exactly decrease piracy is actually a bad sign. It tells us that they are not really looking for the better way, but the most profitable. Which is, ironically, the former; but they can't see it. I truly hope this wakes them up.

PinothyJ said:

There are plenty of trusted companies that use BitTorrent technology to distribute content. Implying all BT traffic as illegitimate is misleading and inappropriate. It is akin to the stupid tosser who came in to look at NAS RAID products and went on an on how illegal it was for Buffalo to include support for BT. I felt that the most just course of action was to not correct him so he make a fool of himself for many years to come. What can I say?: I am good person like that.

But yes, misleading implications in this article...

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

<p>There are plenty of trusted companies that use BitTorrent technology to distribute content. Implying all BT traffic as illegitimate is misleading and inappropriate. It is akin to the stupid tosser who came in to look at NAS RAID products and went on an on how illegal it was for Buffalo to include support for BT. I felt that the most just course of action was to not correct him so he make a fool of himself for many years to come. What can I say?: I am good person like that.</p>

<p><br /></p>

<p><br /></p>

<p>But yes, misleading implications in this article...</p>

Nobody is saying that P2P does not have useful legitimate uses, and is a perfect model of how well a company can distribute its content legally. But lets be real, its primary use is not distributing legal content. That is just a side effect of the main purpose of these networks, and that's the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. (I'm not making a moral judgement on this, just a fact)

What this shows is that if the viewers are able to legally view the same programs, they will usually do so. I don't see what the problem is. You provide me free TV shows on your web site, I will sit through commercials. I know the drill, I've watched regular TV in the same fashion all my life.

Guest said:

the us government needs to realize pirating technically doesnt hurt anything sales wise. the pre order sales for video games / box office sales produce more money than the actual movies / games that are stolen. Not to mention a good amount of people who pirate stuff are only testers who want to see whether or not their purchase would be worth their hard earned money.60 dollars for a new game is rediculous because what if the game sucks? BOOM youre out 60 bucks. 20 dollars + for a blu ray these days and once you buy it you may also be disappointed and BOOM youre out 20+ dollars. thank you U.S government for being a bunch of gready nobody cowards who care nothing about making money of any little thing they can think of. its never going to end. you shut down napster and you thought you were awesome. then more apps came along and you started crying. It will never end so just go over it. I've came to the conclusion that the way the world runs is garbage and I've gotten over it, so should you. Be happy with your guaranteed 6 figure income and go away.

Guest said:

You provide me free TV shows on your web site, I will sit through commercials. I know the drill, I've watched regular TV in the same fashion all my life.

If TV shows have been free online all your life, what's the point of Netflix and Hulu? You may want to reword what you said.

Guest said:

im rephrasing the below statement because I worded it incorrectly

"thank you U.S government for being a bunch of gready nobody cowards who care nothing about making money of any little thing they can think of"

rephrashed: thank you U.S government for being a bunch of greedy nobody cowards who care nothing about the people they represent, but only about making money off any little thing they can think of"

my revised statement. thank you.

Rasta211 said:

I'm a bit surprised nothing was mentioned about ISP doing Torrent traffic shaping and throttling.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

<p><span style="font-size: 12px"><span style="font-family: 'Helvetica'"><span style="color: #000000">You provide me free TV shows on your web site, I will sit through commercials. I know the drill, I've watched regular TV in the same fashion all my life.</span></span></span></p>

<p><br /></p>

<p><span style="font-size: 12px"><span style="font-family: 'Helvetica'"><span style="color: #000000">If TV shows have been free online all your life, what's the point of Netflix and Hulu? You may want to reword what you said.</span></span></span></p>

You want me to reword what I said based on a theoretical "what if" that does not apply to my life?

Hmmm....no...I have spent most of my life watching TV on an actual TV, and so I don't mind watching commercials that much. And unless you're 10, you probably watched TV on an actual TV yourself, so you also are used to watching commercials.

So now your comment really only applies to prepubescent teens. Want to rethink YOUR comment?

MilwaukeeMike said:

<p>Essentially, what I am saying is this is not rocket science. The fact that Sandvine and other companies have to formulate these reports, and that websites like TorrentFreak report them so that big media can be enlightened as to what factors exactly decrease piracy is actually a bad sign. It tells us that they are not really looking for the better way, but the most profitable. Which is, ironically, the former; but they can't see it. I truly hope this wakes them up.</p>

Sandvine doesn't HAVE to build these reports, they probably sell them to the media companies just like any other industry analyst service. Buying a report to learn about customer habits (or demographics, culture etc.) is perfectly normal, not a 'bad sign'.

You think it's easy to deliver digital content for a decent price that keeps all the copyright holders happy?

You notice how it said in the article that torrent traffic hasn't decreased, but legal distribution has increased? That means the content is getting to more people and the media companies are therefore making more money off it. Why do you say they 'don't have a clue?'

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

<p>
<p>Essentially, what I am saying is this is not rocket science. The fact that Sandvine and other companies have to formulate these reports, and that websites like TorrentFreak report them so that big media can be enlightened as to what factors exactly decrease piracy is actually a bad sign. It tells us that they are not really looking for the better way, but the most profitable. Which is, ironically, the former; but they can't see it. I truly hope this wakes them up.</p>
</p>

<p>Sandvine doesn't HAVE to build these reports, they probably sell them to the media companies just like any other industry analyst service. Buying a report to learn about customer habits (or demographics, culture etc.) is perfectly normal, not a 'bad sign'.</p>

I wasn't talking about they having to, as in, having to as an effort to help big media understand how piracy truly affects their business, I meant having to, as in, stating the obvious; as in the businesses they are selling this to willing to buy such information and having, consequently, websites like TorrentFreak report them with the underlying hope that these very businesses can ultimately understand the "better way" of truly decreasing piracy around the content they produce.

I'll write simpler so that you understand my point:

My first sentence stated that "this is not rocket science." The fundamental objective of this report is so that big media firms that use this data can better assess the digital landscape regarding the affect of increased/decreased usage of P2P sharing. I get that. But do you seriously think they use this data for the simple purpose of analyzing demographic usage patterns? They use this data to analyze the trend that this article talked about, and how to properly maximize on that trend.

The point made by the article is that, at the end of the day, it shows that Bitorrent traffic has declined mostly thanks to easier-to-access, consumer-friendly, legal avenues. My point being is that they have to buy usage patterns from firms like Sandvine in order for them to maximize revenue by analyzing changes in the always-connected-consumer construct. Hell, what else do you think they use this data for? To <I>not</I> analyze usage patterns to properly strategize a business plan? Do you think they look at the demographics data and no business decision whatsoever takes place afterwards? Don't be naive.

<p>You think it's easy to deliver digital content for a decent price that keeps all the copyright holders happy? </p>

It's quite easy. Look at Steam. Then look at Ultra-Violet. Similar underlying principles, poorly executed by businesses who still think content blocking and "exclusivity" will win over the new generation of content consumers.

<p>You notice how it said in the article that torrent traffic hasn't decreased, but legal distribution has increased? That means the content is getting to more people and the media companies are therefore making more money off it. Why do you say they 'don't have a clue?'</p>

Legal distribution has indeed increased but <I>not</I> from the companies who are being precisely targeted in both the article and in my argument. Only the companies who are doing it right are seeing more and more consumers. Companies like who? Netlfix. Services such as WhatsApp. Music streaming services such as Pandora. What do these companies/services have in common? They all let you consume content wherever you are, with little to minimal restriction. Even with paid services such as Netlifx, the thought of watching whatever you want, as much as you want, wherever you want, and whenever you want, for one monthly fee, is better than being locked in by the companies you DON'T see mentioned in the report, who all base their business practices in these almighty words: the value of exclusivity.

What I meant was a bad sign is them needing this data to determine how to properly maximize revenue in the digital content market, when all you really need to worry about, like I said with Gabe's statement, is: provide your customers with a superior value. That's it. There's no need to startegize, to look at usage patterns to see that customers are willing to pay for content that's DRM-free and easy to access, which is a notion that apparently negatively affects these big media businesss who think pirates pirate wheter such content is easily available to them or not. This report effectively points to that, and my hope is that they don't ever need this report to get to that conclusion, but to get there because it is, quite truthfully, the better way.

The purpose of this report is evident, but the need of big businesses for these reports is a bad sign. Not because they could use this data as useful market analysis for properly launching/strategizing/remodeling current products and/or other forms of digital content (as I'm sure that accounts to about 30% of the reason), but because the real, bigger goal here is how this report's services, patterns and percentages are nothing but variables they place in a contrived equation whose ultimate goal is how to maximize profits under their "our way or the highway" model.

Guest said:

In my view, it's all about, on one hand people's "brand snuggle" as I call it, and the other is the price of things. I admit, I download and I download a lot. In those 20.32% of EU Torrent traffic, I might be there as well. But I wouldn't mind if I could legally do the same. My reason is purely the price of things. And I'm quite poor, so purchasing everything I own to date (since I dunno maybe the late 90's.) would be a nightmare especially some software like Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Premiere (Pro), and so on, who have a shelf price of $800 and upwards. (This is where the brand snuggle comes in for some people since they could get GIMP or Paint.NET, but again, brands speak louder). Games themselves, even though we already have Steam in Portugal, and it has quite the deals I like on games, the fact is, SHELF price is over $50 (adjusted) for the cheaper ones, sometimes reaching to $100. Not joking. US publishers have no sense of currency conversion, so they launch a game at $49.99 and at ?49.99 (which is almost 150% of the US price). I estimated that the total of games I have downloaded would have costed me about 1.500? ($3000) with about $300 going straight to Sims 3 expansions. I recall that at least here in PT, games in the Genesis / SNES era had shelf prices of about 3 to 5 bucks. This is great. Not 50 bucks. Consoles themselves costed 150 bucks at launch instead of 700 bucks. I might say the game industry is doing this on themselves. As for video, cinema prices help piracy, and the general price of DVD and Blu-ray as well. Music, it's the same thing, allied with some musicians's WILL to have their fans download their music to sabotage the record companies who get 96% of their profits...

TJGeezer said:

<p>LMAO!!! All this is showing me personally is that when you take away the illegal options all you do is force ppl to pay. File sharing in its most simple form is a great idea, its groups like MPAA RIAA and the US Govt. who dont want file sharing. They want their piece of the dollar like everyone else.</p>

Take away what illegal options? Get real.

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