Magna Study Finds Surge In P2P Pirating Of TV Shows
"Video trading over peer-to-peer networks is today where the music industry was in 1999," said report author Brian Wieser, vice-president, director of industry analysis at Magna Global. "It's growing and should continue to grow at a fairly rapid clip."
For instance, downloads of the television show "24" on BitTorrent networks nearly tripled from an average of 35,000 per episode in the 2003-2004 season to 95,000 for the 2004-2005 season. The report attributes those figures to research from Envisional, a UK-based peer-to-peer traffic monitoring company.
The 10 most popular pirated TV downloads worldwide are: "24," "Stargate Atlantis," "The Simpsons," "Enterprise," "Stargate SG-1," "The O.C.," "Smallville," "Desperate Housewives," "Battlestar Galactica," and "Lost," according to a February survey by Envisional, cited in the report. Much of the downloading occurs overseas, especially in the English-language United Kingdom, where shows aren't usually broadcast until months after they've aired in the United States.
Often, television shows available on peer-to-peer networks are stripped of commercials. But, said Wieser, the growing popularity of peer-to-peer networks need not be completely bad news for marketers. Instead, he suggests, advertisers might be able to find ways to reach consumers who use file-sharing networks. One possibility, stated the report, is to spread branded entertainment, virally, throughout the networks. Marketers might also distribute individual songs or videos and, at the end, ask consumers to visit a Web site. Wieser also suggested that marketers consider releasing classic commercials in networks for free distribution.
The report also criticizes the entertainment industry for the "defense"-oriented stance it has so far taken. "Decoy copies of programs are placed online to frustrate would-be pirates (otherwise known as 'fans') and lawsuits such as the one against Grokster and its peers have been launched," stated the report. "We believe these tactics can at best delay the inevitable."