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BitTorrent: the next marketing platform?

Posting in Technology

Since its inception in 2001, BitTorrent has helped users looking to download movies, music, and more figure out where to find their desired media. But unlike Napster and Limewire, which actually connected people to their download of choice, BitTorrent has never been declared illegal. The peer-to-peer file sharing protocol has, however, provided film and music distributors with a fair number of headaches over the years. Its 170 million members share untold numbers of pirated movies, which have for years been eating into studio profits.

So it may come as a surprise that film distributor Cinedigm is partnering with the website on its next project: a Colin Firth movie called Arthur Newman. BitTorrent users will actually be able to download the movie's first seven minutes for free -- courtesy of Cinedigm, whose marketing strategy seems to have adopted the idea that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

As demographics go, BitTorrent caters to a marketer's ideal demographic: nearly half of its users are between ages 18 and 35, and 64 percent are male. Furthermore, studies have shown that people who download movies illegally tend to enjoy movies generally and typically pay to see roughly 30 percent more films than the average person. So even if they are downloading some movies illegally, they are still a prime target for studios trying to get people into theaters.

The move is a first for the film industry and, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, is "not unlike going into business with the guy who stole all your lunch money in middle school."

“It’s a promotional play on one of the biggest platforms,” Jill Calcaterra, Cinedigm's chief marketing officer, told Bloomberg Businessweek in an e-mail. “We are simply taking the way [BitTorrent] has been used in the past and turning it on its head.”

Photo: Vertebra Films

via [Bloomberg Businessweek]

— By on April 24, 2013, 11:17 PM PST

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure