Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The More They Stream the Less We Share?

The amount of broadband traffic used on P2P file-sharing is now down to 20% in the United States while streamed media nearly doubled to 26% according to the Sandvine's "2009 Global Broadband Phenomena" report (via Ars Technica). This is an important trend that can likely be explained by a number of factors:
  1. Increased availability of free, legally streamed media (Hulu, Pandora, and Lala)
  2. Increased availability of free, illegally streamed media (ch131 and wisevid)
  3. Increased availability of subscription service media providers (Netflix and Rhapsody)
  4. Increased availability of pay-per-view, streamed media (Amazon Video On Demand)
  5. Devices that allow streamed media to be played on TVs (Xbox and Roku)
  6. High profile enforcement efforts by RIAA (Tenenbaum and Jammie Thomas)
All in all, it is easier than ever to access streamed media (legally and illegally) for free or for a low marginal price. As a result, the incentive to download media via P2P file-sharing has diminished. The key to continuing the trend away from P2P file-sharing is for the market to provide users access to free streamed media (supported by ad revenue) as well as subscription models that add addition value. However, with the foolish announcement this week that Hulu will begin charging for access in 2010, the media providers may very well resurrect P2P file-sharing all on thier own.

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