In the past music used to be one of the most illegally downloaded types of content on the Internet but these days it are TV shows. TorrentFreak analyzed a large sample of torrents and found that almost 50% of all torrent traffic are TV shows.
The site writes over a billion TV shows are downloaded every year and that some episodes of popular shows like Lost, Prison Break and Heroes get over 10 million downloads per episode from all over the world.
The popularity of TV-torrents hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, there are reports of TV-studios that allegedly use BitTorrent as a marketing tool, by leaking unaired pilots intentionally. While the movie and music studios continue to fight their “war on piracy”, most of the TV-studios lay low.
On the contrary, Anne Sweeney -the president of the Disney-ABC television group- admitted that she was “inspired” after seeing a pirated copy of the hit-show “Desperate Housewives”. The pirated copy of this popular TV show was the main reason (besides the money) for Disney to sell their shows online. “Coming ‘face to face’ with the high-quality, commercial-free pirated version (of Desperate Housewives) told Disney that it was not just competing with other broadcasters, but with digital pirates and as such was an experience that prompted us to do the iTunes deal with Apple.” Sweeney said at the time.
BitTorrent’s popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by actors either. Masi Oka who plays Hiro Nakamura in the popular show “Heroes”, made some pro-BitTorrent comments earlier this year. When he was in France to promote the series (before they aired), he was surprised to see how many people had already seen the show thanks to BitTorrent. Oka said that BitTorrent is a great promotion tool, but added “Hopefully, if they can buy the DVD after they watch it on BitTorrent, that would be great.”
Besides TV shows torrents are also frequently used to download music, movies, games, software and books.