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Major streaming services are driving people to piracy, report suggests

Piracy may be on the rise, a new report has suggested, because there are simply too many different streaming services for consumers to subscribe to.

According to Sandvine’s 2018 Global Internet Phenomena report (via Motherboard), BitTorrent usage is once again on the up after several years of decline − particularly in the Europe, Middle-East, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.

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“Previous editions of the Phenomena report noted a decrease in file sharing traffic as Netflix and other streaming services came online, making content available through legal means. Well, that dynamic is changing yet again,” wrote Cam Cullen, Sandvine’s VP of global marketing, in a blog post.

Although there are many legitimate uses for BitTorrent − many popular open-source projects are distributed as torrents to avoid costly server fees, for example − it has become known as a means of distributing pirated content.

“In the first Global Internet Phenomena Report in 2011, file sharing was huge on fixed networks and tiny on mobile. In the Americas, for example, 52.01% of upstream traffic on fixed networks and 3.83% of all upstream mobile traffic was BitTorrent. In Europe, it was even more, with 59.68% of upstream on fixed and 17.03% on mobile,” the blog post continues.

“By 2015, those numbers had fallen significantly, with Americas being 26.83% on the upstream and Europe being 21.08% on just fixed networks.”

At present, BitTorrent accounts for almost 22% of total upstream volume of traffic, the report claims. While that’s down slightly from 2015, Sandvine says the figure is growing. And according to the company, too much choice might be to blame.

“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,” wrote Cullen.

It’s a somewhat ironic finding, as anti-piracy campaigners have repeatedly hailed streaming services like Netflix for turning people away from piracy.

We appear to be seeing something similar with football. Rights for the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, La Liga, Serie A and Carabao Cup are currently split between Sky Sports, BT Sport and Eleven Sports, and few can afford to subscribe to all three services.

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And in the streaming world, things look like they might get worse before they get better. Disney recently announced plans to launch its own streaming platform, which means that much of its content will soon be pulled off rival streaming services.

“Many of these exclusive series are US-based, and do not have good distribution internationally, so people download it because they have no access to the content. 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.”

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