Ever since Hulu launched, putting a trove of Fox and NBC TV shows free online, the studios have watched to see if that’s had any impact on the rate that people steal their shows through BitTorrent sites. In short, it hasn’t.
Big Champagne CEO Eric Garland says his researchers, who track BitTorrent downloading, haven’t noticed any discernible impact on overall downloading of shows.
That’s partly because Hulu, which just became the nation’s 8th most-popular video site according to comScore, has only been around since March, making comparisons difficult, and it’s only available in the U.S.
But Hulu has had an impact on some individual shows. For example: the most-downloaded show on BitTorrent sites over the past two weeks has been Fox’s ‘Prison Break’, which has been downloaded more than 2 million times since the show’s premiere (compared to 6 million viewers on Fox).
Fox execs told Variety they suspected much of the downloading was happening overseas, not in the US. Research from Torrentfreak supports that notion: of 250,000 BitTorrent downloads, they found only 4% were coming from the U.S. The top country was Poland, which accounted for 12% of downloads, followed by the UK, France, Canada and The Netherlands. The U.S. was sixth followed by Greece, Spain, Australia and Brazil.
Fox execs say they’re planning to redouble enforcement efforts in Europe. But they also said they hoped international versions of Hulu would help matters. It’s in the works. News Corp. (NWS) COO Peter Chernin said Hulu is working to establish local joint ventures in individual territories which would acquire the TV and film rights to make it happen. ‘Prison Break’ gives them added incentive.
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