A pile of numbers

Not sure what to make of some of the numbers in Media Life’s article Long slow win over illegal downloads. Numbers from ComScore show about 19.5 million visits to the top five P2P sites (a huge drop), versus 26.44 million visits to the top 10 retail music sites (a modest increase).

That’s big news. But to conclude that the RIAA lawsuits and easy access to legal music has stemmed the tide in music piracy is a bit premature. What you can conclude is this:

ComScore shows about 19.5 million visits to the top five P2P sites (a huge drop), versus 26.44 million visits to the top 10 retail music sites (a modest increase).

ComScore measured more visits to the top 10 retail music sites than to the top five P2P sites, and I’m sure to the RIAA, that’s better than the alternative. But that’s all you can conclude. P2P is happening outside the top five sites. There are web sites – often outside the US – devoted to illegal music sharing. There’s Usenet’s alt.binaries heirarchy. And of course, there’s BitTorrent, which by many estimates is consuming huge amounts of bandwidth. (There are more than 10 music retailers, too.)

Some of the numbers are odd though. It lists Barnes & Noble as the #1 destination for retail music, and doesn’t have Amazon in the top 10. That sounds strange.

In the same article, Nielsen//NetRatings is quoted with lots of numbers about the top 25 web sites, top 25 advertisers, top 25 advertising sites, etc — I won’t go into details here, but check it out. For many readers of this blog, those tables will be more interesting.

A pile of numbers