You wouldn’t think BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing service synonymous with pirated media, would be of much use to the companies whose TV shows, films and music they allow to be distributed illegally. But BitTorrent generates a lot of data that entertainment companies are finding new ways to capitalize on.
Netflix admitted earlier this year that it regularly keeps track of the shows being illegally distributed on torrent sites. For example, they noticed the TV show ‘Prison Break‘ was the most pirated TV show in the Netherlands and decided to license the show based on this data.
A U.K company called Musicmetric keeps track of things like social media chatter and BitTorrent traffic. Bands then use that data to book tours, focusing on areas where they have the most active fan base. Gregory Mead, CEO of Semetric, which owns Musicmetric, told CNBC on Monday, “It’s very global data, so you can start drilling down to what areas regionally an artist is popular. You can also see what other people are downloading along with, for example, the new Bruno Mars release. So you can start profiling fans all the way down to a town or a city level. So it’s very useful marketing information.” Musicmetric says the service is used by all major record labels in some form to isolate flaws in marketing campaigns and highlight growth potential.
Drafthouse Films and the co-directors of ‘The Act of Killing‘ are currently using a BitTorrent Bundle to promote a director’s cut of the documentary on iTunes. They got involved with BitTorrent because they want the widest possible reach for their controversial new film.
Entertainment companies are smart to find new ways of making BitTorrent data profitable and partnering with them on distribution projects. No doubt we’ll be seeing more of this in 2014. With all of the recent attention it should come as no surprise that BitTorrent is hard at work on a public image makeover, positioning themselves as a creative ally. BitTorrent’s new PR campaign distances the company from the messy issue of Internet piracy and plays up their working relationship with tech companies like Facebook and Twitter while name-dropping Moby and Madonna, both of whom have projects in the works with BitTorrent.