Remember the threat of digital video piracy, the scourge of Hollywood?
A new report suggests that it's dropping fast, thanks to licensed streaming services, chiefly Netflix.
Netflix utterly dominates online-video traffic, according to a new study by Sandvine, accounting for 33 percent of peak traffic in North America. Amazon, its closest rival, has only 1.8 percent, and Hulu has 1.4 percent.
The real alternative to Netflix is BitTorrent, a popular file-sharing protocol through which users upload and download copies of movies and TV shows. Because it's a technology for file sharing rather than a centralized service or piece of software, BitTorrent has proven very hard for movie studios to shut down.
But BitTorrent is down to 12 percent of all traffic in North America. It's easy to see why: With Netflix's wide selection, relatively low monthly price compared to cable-TV subscriptions, and speed of delivery, few people opt to wrestle with the complexity and delay of file downloads.
In Europe, BitTorrent is at 16 percent of traffic, and in Asia, where video services are less available, it's 36 percent.
By 2015, Sandvine CEO Dave Caputo forecasts that peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic will drop below 10 percent of network use.
It's not a given that BitTorrent use indicates illegal downloading of a video file—some game developers use it to distribute legal copies of their software, for example—but it is heavily used for video downloads.
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