BitTorrent reaches 100 million subscribers monthly, 400k downloads daily

Holy downloads, Batman, BitTorrent has 100 million monthly active users -- 20 million per day. Average daily downloads: 400,000. That's a whole lot of file sharing, and I wonder: How active are Betanews readers on BitTorrent?

BitTorrent revealed the subscriber data in one of many tech announcements leading into the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off with Wednesday evening's keynote delivered by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

"This is an exciting day for our team," Eric Klinker, BitTorrent CEO, said in a statement. "Our vision is to build a complete technology ecosystem comprised of software, content and devices, designed to connect modern content creators with a massive digital audience. This milestone highlights the size of our user base and the power of our software."

That software is BitTorrent Mainline and µTorrent. BitTorrent allows users to download software in distributed bits from among many computers, making it easy to download -- some Hollywood studios might say "steal" -- large files. However, there is conflicting analyst data about whether this kind of downloading hurts or helps movie sales or TV watching.

File trading contributed to network's streaming TV shows over the Internet. Back in 2004-2005, NBC Universal's Syfy (previously known as SciFi) network broke into limited streaming after observing the strange benefits of pirating. Mindjack's May 2005 story on BitTorrent trading of "Battlestar Galactica" episodes is a harrowing tale of piracy boosting TV viewership. "Battlestar Galactica" aired in the United States before the United Kingdom, making its way to BitTorrent in the between time. Mark Pesce explains the outcome:

While you might assume the SciFi Channel saw a significant drop-off in viewership as a result of this piracy, it appears to have had the reverse effect: the series is so good that the few tens of thousands of people who watched downloaded versions told their friends to tune in on January 14th, and see for themselves. From its premiere, 'Battlestar Galactica' has been the most popular program ever to air on the SciFi Channel, and its audiences have only grown throughout the first series. Piracy made it possible for 'word-of-mouth' to spread about 'Battlestar Galactica.'

NBC Universal and Syfy responded by streaming select "Battlestar Galactica" episodes by summer 2005. Full-episode TV streaming was pretty novel in early 2005. YouTube hadn't yet opened to the public (but would later that year).

Returning to the here and now, BitTorrent is available in 52 languages with "clients checking in from over 220 countries every day." BitTorrent didn't release what subscribers might be downloading. But surely you know. For what it's worth "Lost" and "Heroes" were the top two pirated TV shows in 2010, according to TorrentFreak. The week's top downloaded movies on BitTorrent: "Little Frockers" and "TRON: Legacy."

I've got to ask: Do you use BitTorrent, and what for? Are you more or less likely to pay for a new movie after downloading it? Please respond in comments.

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