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The end of illegal file sharing? Netflix, YouTube push P2P Web traffic down 66 percent

How’s this for a surprise: That file sharing problem that the movie and music industries have been freaking out about for years? Apparently, it’s significantly less prevalent now in North America than it was just five years ago.

According to a report released by Sandvine, a broadband networking firm, less than 10 percent of total daily North American web traffic stems from P2P file sharing activities. That’s down significantly – by roughly 66 percent. Five years ago, P2P file sharing accounted for over 31 percent of all daily Internet traffic throughout North America. And 11 years ago, P2P file sharing accounted for an even larger share of North American ‘net traffic: 60 percent, to be exact.

So what accounts for this consistently downward trend in P2P file sharing? According to Sandvine CEO David Caputo, it’s all about Netflix, YouTube, and other easily accessible streaming media.

“Since 2009 on-demand entertainment has consumed more bandwidth than ‘experience later’ applications like peer-to-peer file sharing and we had projected it would inevitably dip below 10 percent of total traffic by 2015,” wrote Caputo. “It’s happened much faster. This phenomena, combined with the related rise in video applications like Netflix and YouTube, underscores a big reason why Sandvine’s business has grown beyond traffic management to new service creation.”

So YouTube and Netflix apparently play a big role in the decreasing popularity of file sharing. Here are some numbers for you to chew on: Netflix is the top dog in terms of downstream North American Web traffic, accounting for 31.6 percent. YouTube makes up 18.6 percent of downstream traffic in North America. Combined, the two represent more than half (50.2 percent) of all downstream Web traffic on our continent.

The rise of affordable video entertainment alternatives have clearly set file sharing on a downward path, and will likely continue to, assuming Netflix and similar services like Hulu Plus don’t experience substantial rate hikes.

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