BitTorrent piracy is on the rise, thanks to exclusives and new Netflix rivals: Report
Too many streaming platforms and exclusive content force users to go back to the piracy platforms.
BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing network mainly known for exchange of pirated content, has found a fresh wave of uptake among users after staying on a decline course for years.
According to Sandvine, a research and networking company, BitTorrent usage has increased by 10% since 2015. Between 2011 and 2015, the platform registered a big decline in the US, dipping from 52% to under 27%. The reason behind the increase in usage is mainly due to the growing culture of exclusive content on different OTT (Over-the-top) platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
"More sources than ever are producing "exclusive" content available on a single streaming or broadcast service - think Game of Thrones for HBO, House of Cards for Netflix, The Handmaid's Tale for Hulu, or Jack Ryan for Amazon. To get access to all of these services, it gets very expensive for a consumer, so they subscribe to one or two and pirate the rest," said the firm in a report.
It also noted that most of the exclusive TV series are available only in the US and that these platforms don't have good distribution system globally. This is one of the reasons why people are downloading from unauthorised sources.
"Game of Thrones is so popular that, unless it premieres at the exact same time worldwide, people will download it the moment it's available from anywhere. Since these numbers were taken in June for this edition, there were no Game of Thrones episodes coming out, so consider these numbers depressed from peak," it noted.
According to the report, file sharing is increasing in markets like Europe, Middle East, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
"With over 30% of upstream traffic, BitTorrent dominates upstream with a higher ratio of traffic than in any other region. Content rights in EMEA can be complicated, and consumers are savvy on how to get content using file sharing sites. The EU is attempting to require ISPs to block file sharing sites, but it seems to be a game of whack-a-mole, where when one site gets taken down, another pops up to replace it. Note that this was taken outside of a Game of Thrones season, so the number is lower than it could be," said the firm its detailed report (pdf).
The report comes at a time when more and new players are joining the OTT bandwagon. While Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have remained the top players, all major broadcasters are said to launch their own streaming networks in the next two years. Disney, one of the biggest studios in the US, has already said that it is planning to pull all of its content from Netflix.
In India, newer players like Alt Balaji are competing with the international players. The platform surpassed the 1 million paid subscribers mark in May this year. Zee also recently joined the streaming bandwagon. All of the new and older players are focusing on exclusive content. ALSO READ: After Sacred Games, Netflix announces three new Indian original series
Motherboard in its report notes that people can only subscribe to a limited number of services but if they want to watch all the content, they will have to spend more on different platforms. The report warns that the lack of a proper global distribution network could lead to rise in online piracy once again. RELATED: Game of Thrones leak: Star India promises 'appropriate legal remedial action'