If ever there were a clearer example of big media playing rancher, and digital technology the herdless cat, it’s Popcorn Time.
Popcorn Time, based on the BitTorrent software protocol, lets you upload and download media files quickly via other users’ distributed internet connections, making it hard for content rights holders and the law-man to crack down on service providers and thieves. And yes, torrenting is a hobby quite unlike, say, stamping – you are definitely a pirating little Jack Sparrow who is at the very least testing the limits of the North American and international law when grabbing that latest episode of 2 Broke Girls.
BitTorrent technology’s been around for about a decade now, but has largely remained the domain of Millennials and middle-age nerds. That’s all changing with Popcorn Time. Why?
1. Popcorn Time is way easier to download and use (your mom could probably do it if she just took a deep breath) out of the box than other BitTorrent services, with an Netflix-esque user experience and bundled video player.
2. It’s widely available as a mobile app on iOS (no jailbreak required) Android and Microsoft.
3. Has a selection of shows and movies rivalling any of the big boys (again, Netflix, HBO GO).
Through digital and physical world of mouth, Popcorn Time seems to have grown faster than any rising digital service I can think of in the past few years; everyone I know has started to use it at the same time, sheepishly confessing exactly where they’d caught up on all 3 seasons of The Americans while the kids were away at camp. When you google ‘popcorn’, Popcorn Time shows higher than popcorn.
The media entities that own the content everyone on the planet is current stealing through Popcorn Time have taken notice, including Netflix. The end of days seem nigh when even Netflix, still very much in the crosshairs of North America’s biggest media rights holders due its position at the vanguard of innovation, recently called out Popcorn Time in what the Verge aptly described as a ‘Whine that goes well with Popcorn’.
Indeed, the dramatic rise of Popcorn Time has not gone unnoticed by Netflix. The company specifically mentioned Popcorn in Netflix’s January letter to investors. “Piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors,” said the letter. “This graph of Popcorn Time’s sharp rise relative to Netflix and HBO in the Netherlands, for example, is sobering.” (graph here at The Verge)
Good luck Netflix, and welcome to the club. Comcast feels your pain.