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​‘P2P not dead': 300 mn BitTorrent users swap TV shows and movies every month

Published time: May 31, 2014 13:03
AFP Photo / Hoang Dinh Nam

AFP Photo / Hoang Dinh Nam

Despite the copyright industry’s best efforts to stamp out internet piracy, P2P file sharing continues its meteoric rise, with 300 million users swapping files via BitTorrent every month, media analytics startup Tru Optik says.

Ever since the advent of YouTube, coupled with scare stories of copyright holders suing individual downloaders for losses, reports of a drop in peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing have been a regular occurrence for over half a decade.

As early as 2009, Wired was reporting P2P was likely dead in the water, when its total percentage of net traffic had dropped from 40 to 18 percent over a two-year period. In November, a Global Internet Phenomena report published by Sandvine said that P2P file sharing had dropped below 10 percent of total daily internet traffic in North America, with YouTube and US-based on demand media streaming service Netflix accounting for over 50 percent of downloaded content.

But recent statistics released by Tru Optik paint quite a different picture, estimating that every month more media content is downloaded by file sharers than are sold on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon combined.

And it’s not just countries where certain media is unavailable or restricted in availability. The United States, which produces much of the world’s most popular entertainment products, is also the P2P king, downloading more movies, television shows, music and software than any other country. The US only gets outpaced in the realm of video games, where Brazil takes the number one spot.

The US accounts for 10.57 percent of all global P2P users. The company said that as of March 2014, 31.7 million unique IP addresses were engaged in file sharing, up from a monthly average of 28.2 million in 2010.

The numbers run counter to widely accepted statistical trends, like those provided by Sandvine, which reported earlier this month that BitTorrent only accounts for 3.4 percent of all peak downstream traffic, while Netflix is responsible for ten times that figure.

Speaking with Janko Roettgers, who’s long covered P2P related issues for tech-blog Gigaom, Tru Optik CEO Andre Swanston characterized those numbers as “misleading.”

“There is a false assumption made that there is a correlation between percentage of network bandwidth and active monthly users or numbers of files downloaded,” he said, adding that Sandvine only measured the relative share of all network bandwidth, which had naturally declined as Netflix got more popular.

“Whether it’s Netflix, Facebook, or the New York Times, size, growth or decline of all types of mass media is measured by the number of subscribers and users,” Swanston added, concluding that an estimated share of network traffic was not a logical metric to determine a medium’s actual popularity.

Swantson says that the lack of ease in quantifying file sharing has prompted the company to launch a P2P data analytics API that promises real-time access to file sharing data. “In the month of March, we connected with over 150 million unique IPs just from the top 7000 torrents on Pirate Bay,” Swanston said.

He concluded that the information could help provide powerful market research to help media companies get a clearer understanding of real consumer demand.

There could be some sense in monetizing that demand, as in the United States 69 percent of P2P downloads occur in homes averaging $50K (the national median income) to $90K a year. Another 18 percent of downloads were registered in homes averaging over $90K annually.

Comments (13)


Max 01.06.2014 11:47

Its a flexible protocol :

Using Megabit Sized BitTorrent Objects (and the BitTorrent Protocol, and LibTorrent) to Securely Relay Gigabits of Data Over an Internet With 90% Probable Packet Interception


Some Urgently Needed Changes
to Make BitTorrent Clients (and Protocol) Function
in Their User's Best Interests

A bstract
These are changes that primarily need to be made in BitTorrent client program user interfaces, but secondarily need to be made in the way the client program interacts with the computer system it is running on.

There are some ... not affect the way the files themselves are transferred.


Fritz 01.06.2014 03:50

Qbittorrent's my fave . Using it now. Most miss out on the books though. Millions and small. Got some of the biggest libraries in Cambo long since, my $150 course book included. Love it. Great for education in third world countries and comes with cinema classics like "Zombie A..." and boatloads of the latest music from all over the world. Simple solution. Cut the middle people out and have the artists make thier cheese on "name recognition". Popular artist will still get rich giving the art away. The educational should be subsidized as an educated public helps all. Copywrite is bad. I ignore it. I'm not alone.


James Reese 31.05.2014 19:37

The old business model is outdated for the internet. The new model should allow free P2P, files shared free, including music and movies, and money is made through merchandising. Download the song for free, but if you want a tee shirt or autograph or action figure, that will cost extra. This is the new internet business model.

View all comments (13)
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