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Legal Streaming Is Growing Faster than Torrenting Around the World

Netflix and YouTube are growing faster than torrenting in Europe and Asia, a new report suggests.
September 18, 2015, 7:44pm
Image: Flickr/Jenny Cestnick

Legal streaming services like Netflix and YouTube are growing faster than BitTorrent in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region, a new report suggests.

For years, torrenting was the one of the few ways to easily and affordably get desirable content online, but no longer. Netflix has already overtaken BitTorrent in the US; as of last year, torrenting made up just five percent of all network traffic. Netflix took up more than 30 percent. The pattern appears to be repeating itself in Europe and Asia. According to a new report by Canadian networking company Sandvine, BitTorrent has lost a not-insignificant portion of traffic market share in both of the aforementioned regions. This doesn't necessarily mean that fewer people are using torrents, but that the pie is getting bigger, and legal streaming services are eating it up faster than torrents.

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"There might be a subset of people who have used and will always use BitTorrent, but some of them might have said that, hey, these streaming services make sense, so I'm willing to torrent less," Dan Deeth, a spokesperson for Sandvine, told me over the phone. "Those services are growing faster."

"What we're seeing in Asia is that we might see a similar decline as in the US"

Right now, torrenting makes up just 8.44 percent of all traffic in Europe, compared to 17.99 percent two years ago, TorrentFreak notes. It still beats out Netflix, but YouTube remains number one with more than 20 percent of aggregate network traffic.

In Asia-Pacific, things are a little less dramatic, but could indicate a downward trend for torrenting. BitTorrent is number one for aggregate network traffic, but only just barely—YouTube is trailing by less than one percent.

"What we're seeing in Asia is that we might see a similar decline as in the US, although perhaps not at the same pace," Deeth said.

The effects of cord cutting—getting rid of your cable subscription to live that streaming life—are already being felt, with industry insiders blaming it for plunging stock prices among TV companies. Some providers, like Showtime, have even begun streaming some of their content in an attempt to woo would-be streamers.

Netflix has recently announced plans to enter more markets in Europe and Asia, including Italy and South Korea, suggesting that the trend of cord cutters going the legal route isn't about to stop.