Prison Break and P2P

What is currently the hottest hit on P2P trackers? Not the last Hollywood movie. It is the first episode of new season of PrisonBreak. According to TorrentFreak, more than 1 million people downloaded the torrent using BitTorrent. The broadcast audience for this episode was 6.5 million viewers according to Fox. This means that at least 20% of the audience will not use the official channel.

Like ABC, Fox has proposed a catchup TV service where users can stream legally and for free the latest episodes. Why do people prefer to use P2P?

TorrentFreak proposed the convenience as an explanation. It is true that you have two advantages compared to broadcast or streaming:

  • Possibility to store and play back on any device
  • Skip advertisements

Nevertheless, there is also another factor. What is the proportion of non-US downloaders on P2P? Currently, non-US/Canadian citizens can neither have access to broadcast nor streaming. When attempting to connect, the connection is rejected because the receiving IP address is not located in the US. Not everybody has access to a US proxy that may allow to bypass this limitation. Fans/addicts will do all there possible to get access to the newest episodes. They will not wait several months (even one year for France) to legally get them. They will download them through P2P. Furthermore, they will find subtitled version available a few days after broadcast. (I checked that the latest episode of PrisonBreak was already available with French and Italian subtitles!)

What can content owners do against it? Provide advertisement free content? This is in total contradiction with Free To Air business model based on advertisement revenue. Provide to foreign countries the episodes as soon as they are available in US? This as a cost because it requires dubbing all episodes with the main languages before initial broadcast. Subtitling is not sufficient in many countries. In France, people hate subtitles. M6 attempted to offer as paid VOD season 4 of Desperate Housewives with French subtitles. it did not work.

Unfortunately, for non US addicts, P2P is the most convenient and cheapest solution. :Sad: This may also explain why TV series are the biggest part of P2P trackers (see Mininova reaches 5 billions torrents)

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