Poor countries download movies. Rich countries download music

October 10, 2014

bittorrentProfessors at Northwestern University have just published a study that looked at the download habits of internet users, particularly as it relates to peer-to-peer file sharing. “The researchers analyzed 10,000 anonymous BitTorrent users from around the world during a typical month using data reported by users of the BitTorrent plugin Ono. File content types shared by users included small files, music, TV shows, movies and books. (The type of content was easily determined based on file size.)

The conclusion?

…most BitTorrent users are content specialists — sharing music but not movies, for example; and users in countries with similar economies tend to download similar types of content — those living in poorer countries such as Lithuania and Spain, for example, download primarily large files, such as movies.

“Looking into this world of Internet traffic, we see a close interaction between computing systems and our everyday lives,” said Luís A. Nunes Amaral, a senior author of the study. “People in a given country display preferences for certain content — content that might not be readily available because of an authoritarian government or inferior communication infrastructure. This study can provide a great deal of insight into how things are working in a country.”

…BitTorrent users in countries with a small gross domestic product (GDP) per capita were more likely to share large files, such as high-definition movies, than users in countries with a large GDP per capita, where small files such as music were shared.

In other words, poor countries download movies. Rich countries download music.

HT: Tyler Cowan

The press release is here and the full paper and data are here.

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.