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.

Mininova
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)

Radio
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

TV
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

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

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

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