Music Down, Video Up

The June issue of Wired Magazine (print edition, not available online yet) had a very interesting graph (page 148) in its newest edition. It showed total P2P traffic as measured in bytes (well, actually, thousand of terabytes).

The good news (at least for music creators) is that total music traffic is down by about 40% (from about 2800 terabytes to about 1700 terabytes) and that overall traffic in March 2004 is about 15% less than it was in March 2003.

The bad news is that video is way up, almost doubling from 600 to about 1100 terabytes in that same timeframe.

The source for the information appears to be Big Champagne, not exactly an RIAA clone.

As a percentage of total bandwidth, music’s share dropped from about 80% to less than 60%, while video went from a bit over 16% to a bit less than 32%.


The growing acceptance of broadband (and no doubt, P2Ping itself is likely a big motivating factor in that) puts video files within the reach of those who wouldn’t have a prayer of getting a complete one with a dial-up modem.

Dirt-cheap DVD recorders no doubt are helping matters, too.

While the MPAA (that’s the equivalent of the RIAA) has been fairly active in monitoring traffic and sending cease-and-desist notices to ISPs (several in this audience have written me saying they’ve gotten those kinds of notices), they haven’t sued users yet. That hasn’t gotten the media attention given the RIAA lawsuits, so the average person is likely not as aware of this activity.

Which Way Will Movies Go?

Up to now, video files have tended to be highly-compressed and low-quality compared to the real thing. A big reason for that has been the recording medium; until recently CD-Rs have been the only affordable means to do so, and you just can’t get much more than 700Mb on a CD-R, while movies these days tend to be 3-5Gb big.

The advent of cheap DVD-Rs gets rid of most of the quality problem from the recorder end, but downloading a not-too-badly compressed 2 or 3 Gb file is still a very lengthy process over a P2P network even with the best of connections.

In the past, we’ve assumed that DVD piracy (outside of prereleases) would primarily occur at the video store level; people would “back up” Netflix or local Blockbuster. Perhaps we have underestimated the power of “free.”

If that’s the case, the next year ought to see video files continue to take a larger proportion of total P2P files, and quite likely exceed (at least in total size) the bandwidth being chewed up by music.

We shall see if movie receipts and DVD sales start being affected, too.

Here we go again.


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