Thanks To Streaming Fragmentation, Bittorrent Traffic Is Suddenly Rising In Traffic Share

from the equal-and-opposite-reaction dept

When it comes to the type of traffic the content industries are worried about regarding piracy, the present is no longer the past. You can see this in many ways, such as anti-piracy efforts largely focusing on illicit streaming sites, the trend in laws and takedown notices also targeting streaming sites, and the overall messaging coming out of the copyright industries about how evil streaming sites are with little distinction between the legal and illegal. All of this has been built in part on the realization that bittorrent traffic, the piracy metric of a decade ago, has been steadily dropping in its traffic market share for several years. Combined with a drastic rise in streaming traffic share, the takeaway was that pirates weren’t downloading any longer and were instead streaming.

The other side of that conversation is how good, convenient streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have taken away some of the impulse for copyright infringement as well. It turns out that if you give the public access to what they want at a reasonable price and make the content easy to get, there’s no longer a need to pirate that content. Who knew?

Unfortunately, the past few years have seen a drastic fragmentation of the streaming market. Where there was once the need to essentially have one or two streaming services to get most of the content you want, exclusivity deals and homegrown content created by the streaming companies themselves has carved out more borders in the streaming services industry, often times requiring many streaming services to get the content people now want. And, because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, Canadian broadband management company Sandvine is reporting that bittorrent traffic is suddenly on the rise.

Globally, across both mobile and fixed access networks file-sharing accounts for 3% of downstream and 22% of upstream traffic. More than 97% of this upstream is BitTorrent, which makes it the dominant P2P force. In the EMEA region, which covers Europe, the Middle East, and Africa there’s a clear upward trend. BitTorrent traffic now accounts for 32% of all upstream traffic. This means that roughly a third of all uploads are torrent-related.

Keep in mind that overall bandwidth usage per household also increased during this period, which means that the volume of BitTorrent traffic grew even more aggressively.

That trend is being mirrored in other regions around the world as well. Once thought to be the declining method for filesharing, bittorrent is suddenly making a traffic comeback. And the reason is the fragmentation in the streaming marketplace. Again, there are both real dollar costs and mental transaction costs that come along with signing up for multiple streaming services. Asking a person to subscribe to 3-6 streaming services to get the kind of content package that is now the norm is no different than a bulky cable bill with multiple and complicated packages. In addition, this streaming service bloat also mirrors what cord-cutters have been running away from for years, which is the cost associated with access to all kinds of content the customer has no interest in. In other words, the streaming industry risks making the exact same mistake the cable industry made with the exact same result in pushing people to pirate content.

And it’s not just me saying so. Sandvine’s report reaches the same conclusion.

“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.

“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!” Cullen notes.

None of this is to say that streaming and content companies can’t produce exclusive content, or that every content creator should make their content available on every streaming platform. However, when the bittorrent traffic picks up, the industry also can’t simply fall back on the “everybody just wants everything for free!” tired mantra that’s been trotted out so often in the past. It’s a direct result of the fragmentation, which is a business model issue.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: amazon, hbo, hulu, netflix

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Thanks To Streaming Fragmentation, Bittorrent Traffic Is Suddenly Rising In Traffic Share”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
47 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Missing an ongoing opportunity

A few years ago I read about how torrents were able to deliver video for immediate viewing, like streaming service do now. The thing was, that they used much less bandwidth, but needed some initial buffering time. I never tried it, so I don’t know how well it worked. What I don’t understand is why all these new streaming services aren’t working on this technology, improving it. It would certainly help them. But to them torrents are EVIL, so why would they want to help EVIL? Short sighted, as always.

I do use torrents. It is how I get my updates for LibreOffice. It is how I get my new Linux distros when they come out. If there are enough seeders (and there usually are) I get those large files very rapidly. Fast enough so that watching a movie or TV show would certainly be feasible. Even in the highest quality HD.

If streaming content providers were to use the technology and the programs are popular then there would be sufficient seeders for smooth delivery of torrent to viewing scenarios with reduced bandwidth at both ends. How much could they save? It might even help with the bandwidth shortage they (those that provide both connectivity and content) claim as an excuse for the bandwidth caps (yeah, right).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Missing an ongoing opportunity

Once AI get involved, they will have nodes of local streamers, buffering each other as they watch the shows they share in common. If you have the part of the show buffered, you can easily share it with others nearby.

It will decrease overall traffic while making response and loading times better. Having copies of the shows available closer to you, internet wise, is better for everyone involved. No need to clog the tubes with the same copy of the latest show over and over again from the source.

Your machine will have the beginning of the shows you are most likely to watch first ready to go. If you don’t have caps, your locally qued-up portions of the shows can be copied for others without you ever being aware of any of it. You will just know that as soon as you click the button, it plays.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Missing an ongoing opportunity

But that’s how torrents work. You download for free, you share in kind. Others sharing what they’ve downloaded is exactly how you’re able to download what you’re looking for. It’s a share and share alike system that works best when the percentage of “leechers” is low.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Missing an ongoing opportunity

Re: BT works best with low leechers.

That’s only true to a degree. BT works best with many participants including leechers being part of the system. The people who make a big fuss about BT leechers are site admins trying to justify limiting access. Again, it’s the control addict issue. It affects BT site admins just as much as it does the copyright lawyers.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Missing an ongoing opportunity

But that’s how torrents work. You download for free, you share in kind. Others sharing what they’ve downloaded is exactly how you’re able to download what you’re looking for. It’s a share and share alike system that works best when the percentage of "leechers" is low.

When you download, YOU’RE a leecher. Besides, without leechers, who are the seeders seeding for?

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Missing an ongoing opportunity

By the definition which I think is being used, a “leecher” on a torrent isn’t “someone who’s downloading from the torrent”, but “someone who uploads less than they download”.

The etiquette of torrent participation, back when I was doing it (at which point I think Netflix was still limited to DVDs-by-mail), was to keep the torrent running until your share ratio – the amount you’d uploaded divided by the amount you’d downloaded – was at least 1. People who didn’t do that were referred to as “leechers”.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Missing an ongoing opportunity

And if you ever joined a swarm late you could never stop being a leecher. Particularly in closed groups with enforced share rates.

I always found that strange on private torrent sites. Obviously they want people to share, but they place such a heavy emphasis on seeding while looking down on those who download. Without downloaders, there’s no point to seeding.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Missing an ongoing opportunity

By the definition which I think is being used, a "leecher" on a torrent isn’t "someone who’s downloading from the torrent", but "someone who uploads less than they download".

That may have been the official definition, but today, anyone who isn’t a seeder is commonly referred to as a leecher. Nobody uses the term "peers".

renato (profile) says:

Re: Missing an ongoing opportunity

The thing was, that they used much less bandwidth, but needed some initial buffering time.

Who’s bandwidth?

Only the original uploader uses less bandwidth, and the users have to cover the rest.

However, several devices/users cannot contribute to the swarm.
Some might lack a physical memory to store the downloaded contents and seed them back, such as TVs.
Others might not have a symmetrical connection speed and can contribute less than they consume (in the long run it might be balanced, but locally it would be a bottleneck).

Another problem is that it would just shift those costs to the consumers.
Some of them have a capped connection and would be furious that a paid service is consuming more of it than it looks fair.
Even if it was advantageous for some users, I’m not sure if it would last long when the ISPs starting taxing it.

It probably needs some tweaks to make it work, but the users don’t want to have to think about that.
They signed for that service only because it is easier than torrent, but as shown they will swing back when some extra costs are imposed on them.

Rip Torn says:

Streaming is being TORN TO SHREDS by ACE lawyers.

You ignore Torrent Freak on the success of lawyers / lawsuits:

Why Kodi Addons & Pirate Apps Are Disappearing…Quietly

https://torrentfreak.com/why-kodi-addons-pirate-apps-are-disappearing-quietly-180923/

Directly bears on reduction of streaming: app developers are being threatened with option of fade away or go to JAIL.

Paraphrasing you: It’s not just ME writing it, but TORRENT FREAK.

Why don’t you EVER report the losses pirates are suffering? Poor little Timmy and Techdirt have gone blind to reality from too much masnickation!

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Why don’t you EVER report the losses pirates are suffering?

Two things.

  1. Submit a story of your own if you want to see it here—but do not be surprised if it is rejected because you keep yelling derogatory adjectives at Mike.
  2. For every every head cut off, two more shall take its place. Piracy cannot be stopped, only mitigated; any “loss” on the piracy side of things will be itself mitigated in short order.

Have it your way with the whining, though. All you accomplish is spamming the comments. It’s sad, really. Looking at your stuff makes me wonder why you keep going. Hell, I wonder why you keep going. You never get anyone but other trolls on your side. Do you know how sad that makes you look? Really, you should probably just leave. And take your victim complex with you, too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What BitTorrent Comeback?!?

Indeed. Bitchute is actively using the webtorrent format for its magnet links, which you can play through a client once enough has been buffered. It’s pretty cool to see how far it’s come. Just surprised this doesn’t seem to be used in the “legit” streaming industry to make loading times (especially in cities) faster for their videos.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: There's one thing missing

I genuinely would like to obtain content legally. Once upon a time I went the pirate route by default but now, older and more conscious of the struggles of creators, I would rather use a paid service where some of the subscription I pay will hopefully go towards paying those who create.

However, lately the process seems to be:

-Think of a movie/programme I would like to watch
-Check Netflix…not available / region locked
-Check Amazon…not available / region locked
-Check TV subscription package…not available

-Check pirate options…instant available high definition stream

And anybody I talk to has their own versions of the same frustration. So while torrenting may well be used legally by many, I think many more are simply being pushed there by the aggravation caused by the fragmentation of streaming services. I would probably pay a very reasonable sum per month to have a service which gave me everything. I do not want to pay multiple subscriptions to possibly find what I’m looking for. So I pirate to avoid the hassle.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: There's one thing missing

Think of a movie/programme I would like to watch

Remember, the classic publishing model does work this way.
The publishers want you to start with "See what is being offered, decide from there."

We’d still be locked into watching TV shows at their regularly programmed timeslot if it weren’t for those scofflaws Sony.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: There's one thing missing

This is it.

For a time the ‘See what is being offered, decide from there’ model was fine – we were already used to that. When streaming services kicked off proper it was more of a novelty, perhaps. Or maybe there was more choice before the level of fragmentation we see now.

However, we’ve acclimatised to the internet now – ‘what you want, when you want it’ is the expectation, and if it can’t be found legally, quickly, easily and cost-effectively, it will be pirated. Fact. Not by everyone, but by a good number which will increase as more people become annoyed, and more people tell each other how to get what they want. Piracy will never die, this just needs to be accepted and better options created to entice people towards the legal options.

People don’t mind paying – they do mind arsing about.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: There's one thing missing

I genuinely would like to obtain content legally. Once upon a time I went the pirate route by default but now, older and more conscious of the struggles of creators, I would rather use a paid service where some of the subscription I pay will hopefully go towards paying those who create.

Not only the problem of what you want to watch not being available on the service(s) you have, but there’s also the issue of how long it will be available. Just subscribed to Netflix to watch a particular show? Too bad it’s being taken off next month. Oh, you canceled your subscription? No more TV shows for you.

If you pirate the shows, you get to keep them forever and watch them on any device you want.

zarprime (profile) says:

I've had this discussion with a few people...

since just about every service has something of value it would be nice to have all of them, but that’s just going to be too expensive. However, most of these services have shows up for quite a long time (or indefinitely for their own content), so we came up with this idea: only subscribe to two services at a time. The first is one you really like, and adds a lot of content continuously. You keep your subscription to this one year-round. The second is one that you rotate. You sign up for a month or two, binge the crap out of what it has to offer, and then you cancel and switch to a new one. It’s a little bit more work, but you’re not going to miss anything you’d really like to see just because it’s on the “wrong” service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I've had this discussion with a few people...

since just about every service has something of value it would be nice to have all of them, but that’s just going to be too expensive.

So’s cable, and people (fewer every year) still pay that. How much would it really cost to get every major streaming service? Probably still less than a high-end cable package.

Not.You says:

Guilty as charged

I’ve had netflix since before they did streaming and I have prime (originally for the free shipping). But now I am having to go back to bit torrent to get some of the stuff I want. Netflix is basically turning into its own cable channel with all of its own shows. But what netflix doesn’t seem to get is that if I wanted another cable channel I would get cable (haven’t had it in a decade). What I want is a streaming portal that can aggregate worthwhile shows and movies. I can wait too, I don’t need current season shows and movies right out of the theaters. But what I do need is not to have to have a half dozen subscriptions for streaming sites. Then it just looks like cable 2.0.

John85851 (profile) says:

Fragmentation makes all services less valuable

The problem, as always, is greed.
Studios seem Neflix raking in the money so they want to create their own streaming service to make the same money. Yet Netflix is so popular *because* it has the content from the studios. Splitting content over different services makes Netflix *and* their own streaming service worth less. Okay, sure, maybe the studios don’t want to compete with Netflix, but isn’t it still a good way to get content in front of people?

And it’s not like Netflix is telling people where to get the content after the studios take it away.
Want to watch Star Trek? Sorry, it’s no longer available on Netflix. It’s on CBS AllAccess, but you have to go through the process of signing up, then going through the catalog, then playing it back, etc.
Want to watch Toy Story? Sorry, it’s no longer available on Netflix. Then where is it? Nowhere, because Disney is holding it for their own streaming service due out in a few years.
CSI or CSI: New York? Nope, moved to CBS All Access also.
But Netflix has a large selection of Korean romance movies and Bollywood movies.

Rekrul says:

I’ve never used illicit streaming sites. To be honest, they always seemed like more trouble than they were worth. Search for what you want to watch, find 100+ sites that say they have it. Click the first one; “The content provider has licensed this show only for certain markets. Please enter your credit card number so we can verify your location.” Click the second one; “In order to watch this content, you must create a free account. Please enter your credit card number for verification. Your card won’t be charged.” Click the 10th one; “Only members can watch this content. To prevent the creation of spam accounts, please enter your credit card details.” Click the 50th one; “You must register to watch this show. We’ll need your credit card info to verify your identity.”

Finally after going through another 30-40 links, you find one that isn’t a scam; “No valid links found for this content.” Go through another 20+ links; “Watch this content on VidLocker – 404 Not Found. Watch this content on VideoNow – 404 Not Found. Watch this content on MyVids – 404 Not Found. Watch this content on SuperVid – Works! Glorious 240p video!”

Anonymous Coward says:

I recall an article here on TD from a while back that did an excellent job picking apart FUD from cable companies. The FUD in question was about how expensive it would be to sign up for all the streaming services you need to catch all the shows you want compared to a cable subscription. The article’s author explained that even subscribing to multiple services is still costs less and is better overall than having to contend with cable’s BS. I’m curious as to whether that’s changed since then.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It was more true when there were a comparative handful of major streaming services (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video) and a small number of affordable niche services (e.g., Crunchyroll). Now that every studio/network/etc. wants to build its own streaming service and yank its content from the other services (e.g., Disney pulling all its content from Netflix), the notion is decidedly less true. As pointed out above, since non-original content began disappearing from Netflix, it has become a less valuable service—and original content alone, regardless of quality, will not float the service forever.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...