Putting Pirates in Perspective: Mininova versus the World

For a recent Telco 2.0 conference, I decided to try and get a sense of just what proportion of media experiences could be attributed to files acquired through pirated channels as compared to those experiences that are the function of more “traditional” and licensed access channels (e.g., radio and television).  The pirate channel I chose was Mininova, given the site recently claimed 10,000,000,000 torrent downloads during the period 2005-2009.

A video of the (now updated) presentation slides (without an audio overdub) is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Importantly, the number of files downloaded through pirate channels, which is the more popular metric spun in the news, was not what I was interested in.  Instead, I wanted to guesstimate how many times downloaded files are heard (in the case of music) or viewed (in the case of video) and compare these numbers to those listens/views that occur through radio and television.

Furthermore, its common for internet sources (like Mininova and even YouTube) to release global numbers, if only for the dramatic effect of really big numbers.  And so, I needed to pull together various estimates of national radio/tv audience sizes, ending up with an aggregate, global estimate—the result being really really big numbers.  Because advertising is primarily bought and sold on a national level, the use of global media data seems rare.

In short, I estimated that Mininova accounted for approximately 0.02901% of global media experiences—i.e., unique listens and views.

At length, below are the numbers, the sources, and the assumptions.

Number of torrent downloads from Mininova = 10,000,000,000 (2005-2009)
Assumed average number of listens/views to each torrent download = 5
Total number of unique media experience attributed to Mininova = 50,000,000,000 (2005-2009)

Estimated global active radio audience = 2,210,093,834 (1/3 of world’s population)
Estimated weekly listening hours per lister = 21.8 (according to rajar)
Number of music tracks per hour (40 minutes of music per hour) = 12
Weekly aggregate tracks heard = 578,160,546,851
Aggregate tracks heard, 2005-2009 = 150,321,742,181,376

Estimated global television household audience (free-to-air + pay) = 1,720,973,000 (according to Informa)
Estimated daily TV viewing hours per household = 5.4 (a function of global 2007 date from the OECD)
Assumed number of shows per hour (2 @ 1 hour, 4 @ 1/2 hour) = 7
Total number of shows viewed per day per household =  12,046,811,000
Total number of shows per household, 2005-2009 =  150,321,742,181,376

Total Radio listens plus TV views = 172,307,172,256,376

Mininova unique media experiences (listens/views) as proportion of total = 0.02901%

From Access to Access: How the future of media is like the past (and present)

Recently, it has been argued by a number of people that the age of selling media has passed, and the age of selling access to media has begun.  I have wondered about this claim a bit, and upon digging around it seems that this purchase-to-access proposition is a position that could use some questioning if not de-bunking.

In short, the future business model for the media industries may indeed be Access.  But this business model simply looks like the one from the past; We are going from Access to Access.

Importantly, the media industry’s past was dominated by the business model of access.  This complete domination of access almost, that’s almost, faded around the turn of the century as consumers purchased a pile of DVDs and CDs.  This moment in time was wrinkled however, and the trend is your friend. Video games are the outlier, however, the industry was previously dominated by sales over access.

In the early part of the 20th century, movie studio revenue came from theater showings. Then came the TV, and both the free-to-air and pay- options.  Oh, and the lase disc. Sales of recorded movie media passed theater receipts in value sometime in the mid 1990’s.  However, pay and free TV, combined with video on demand and other access-based income consistently pushed the access model over the top in the complete portfolio of consumer spending.

Recently, the British Screen Advisory Council released the 2009 numbers for movie revenues in the UK (PDF link).  The BSAC update shows movie sales accounting for roughly only 1/3 of total consumer spending on moving pictures.  Cinema, pay TV, pay and subscription rentals, and VOD (cable and internet) accounted for roughly 2/3 of consumer spending in 2009 on movies.

The music industry revenue distribution looks quite similar.  In fact, we only saw this distribution differently because the phrase “music industry” was wrongly defined as simply the record business.  When you include live music and broadcast environments within the music industry, the predominance of access-, or service-based business models becomes clear.  In the UK, according to research from the PRS for Music (PDF link), live music revenues likely equal recorded music revenues even when the latter includes service monies (licensing for film, broadcast, etc.).

The future business model of the media industry may indeed be one of access.  However, access was also the predominate business model of the past.

In other words, the future for the media industry may simply look a great deal like the past. We are going from Access to Access.

YouTube versus The World: a global viewing comparison

On Sunday, YouTube celebrated its fifth birthday.  Congratulations! On this birthday, the video site announced approximately 2,000,00,000 views each day.

In the wake of this announcement, Eliot VanBuskirk over at Wired.com suggested YouTube viewing now tops network prime time viewing—at least in the US.

Recently at the Telco 2.0 conference, I tried to put YouTube viewing in context and made some estimates and conversions so I could compare YouTube to the World of Television viewing.

Daily YouTube views = 2,000,000,000
Average length of YouTube video = 4.3 minutes
Average time US household watches TV each day = 5.4 hours
Household TV viewing hours converted to YouTube views = 75.4 YT views

US household daily TV viewing converted to YT views = 19,355,665,442
Global household daily TV viewing converted to YT views = 389,019,943,256 (high)
Global household daily TV viewing converted to YT views = 311,215,954,605


YouTube views as a percentage of global TV viewing = 0.514% low estimate
YouTube views as a percentage of global TV viewing = 0.643% high estimate

For a video of these data as presented, just follow this YouTube link