The UK courts have issued an injunction instructing service providers to block sites that are offering downloads of the increasingly popular application Popcorn Time. Popcorn time is often called the “Netflix of Piracy”, since it presents the user with a Netflix-like interface and allows them to stream videos using file sharing technology. Popcorn Time, which is available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android, is an application that has been on the radar screen of the movie industry because it dramatically simplifies the user experience of streaming movies available from file sharing websites like the Pirate Bay (which has also been a constant target of the music and movie industry).
But how much is it really being used?
Below is a snapshot taken from a European Fixed line network in March and April. This network operates at many 10s of Gbps of capacity, and Popcorn time is only peaking at ~18Mbps per second, so it is not a major source of traffic, but the traffic is all generated from torrent technology.
How does Popcorn Time compare to general file sharing on the same network?
About double what Popcorn Time at a peak of 44Mbps, but still far below what file sharing used to be before Netflix entered the region. Historically, file sharing drops dramatically once Netflix enters a country, with file sharing shifting to the latest content – like Game of Thrones for example, rather than older content. Although the bandwidth usage is not heavy, it is a concern for the content providers that created the content, as torrents are only occasionally used as a legitimate distribution mechanism for media.
What is interesting about the order is that it is targeting the download sites and not the application itself. The UK has an infrastructure for content filtering to prevent child pornography (with the Internet Watch Foundation), so targeting the download sites is far easier for the UK ISPs to restrict access to the downloads. However, this will not stop the downloads that have already occurred and are actively using Popcorn Time. So the question is, is this too little to late? Is the cat out of the bag?
Or is it Popcorn Time for the world?