Netflix Has Taken a Huge Bite Out of File Sharing

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Netflix isn't just sailing ahead of competitors like Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube in the downstream market—it's starkly cutting traffic to BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, according to a new Global Internet Phenomena Report by Sandvine.

The data, collected this past September, shows that Netflix accounts for nearly a third of all downstream traffic on the Internet during its peak period, while YouTube has also made substantial gains. As Time notes, that means viewers are streaming on Netflix 10 times more than Amazon and Hulu combined:

But who's the real loser amid this growth? BitTorrent, the report notes, now accounts for only 7.4 percent of traffic during peak period, while file-sharing in general hovers below 10 percent. And that's a sharp drop—only five years ago, BitTorrent managed to draw 31 percent of daily streaming traffic and even twice that 10 years ago.

Such data is a boon to streaming companies arguing that their sites cut down on piracy; for instance, a recent study in Norway argued that the amount of music piracy had plummeted in only five years thanks to the rise of Spotify and other legal streaming channels. As one law professor put it, "when you get an offer that does not cost too much and is easy to use, it is less interesting to download illegally." BitTorrent, meanwhile, is still trying to "go legit" and find partners in the entertainment industry.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.