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Old 07-01-21, 07:22 AM   #1
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Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - January 9th, 21

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January 9th, 2021

‘The Mandalorian’ Is the Most Pirated TV Show of 2020

According to TorrentFreak, Disney+'s "Star Wars" spinoff series unseated "Game of Thrones" as the most pirated program of the year.
Ryan Lattanzio

In spite of and likely due to widespread at-home availability on streaming platform Disney+, “The Mandalorian” has turned out to be the most pirated television program of 2020 using BitTorrent. That’s according to an analysis from TorrentFreak, “based on several sources, including statistics reported by public BitTorrent trackers.” In the global ranking of most-torrented shows around the world for 2020, full season downloads are not counted.

The list was historically led by HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” which wrapped its eighth and final season in May 2019. But for the first time in years, George R.R. Martin’s sprawling epic was de-crowned by the space western “Star Wars” spinoff. In 2019, during its first season run, “The Mandalorian” was the third-most torrented show according to the same survey.

Other top torrented titles, according to the ranking, are a reflection of some of television’s most popular shows outside of pirating. Prime Video’s irreverent superhero series “The Boys” is at number two, HBO’s “Westworld” is number three, Prime Video’s “Vikings” is number four, CBS’ “Star Trek: Picard” is five, followed by Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” HBO’s “The Outsider,” CW’s “The Arrow,” and CW’s “The Flash.”

The TorrentFreak survey, it should be noted, only accounts for BitTorrent traffic, which makes up just a fraction of piracy online, which also includes illegal streaming services.

“The Mandalorian” concluded its second season on December 18 with plenty of shout-outs to fans, including the announcement of another upcoming “Star Wars” spinoff series, “The Book of Boba Fett.” The season also ended with a memorable de-aged cameo.

The finale, however, was not without its detractors. IndieWire’s Tyler Hersko wrote, “‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 finale marks the long-awaited showdown between Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) following the latter’s abduction of Grogu earlier in the season. Though the episode delivers on that front, features a team-up between many of the show’s standout characters, and resolves the quest Mando set off on at the beginning of the season, it does so with so many noisy and plodding action scenes — and aggravating unanswered questions — that the end result isn’t particularly cathartic.”

Streaming Piracy Direct Threat to Content Owners, Providers, Says White House

Says uses of illicit streaming devices is growing
Michael Balderston

The illegal pirating of streaming videos is a growing threat to content owners and distributors, according to the Trump administration, which has shared its annual Intellectual Property Report to Congress.

The annual report—the final one from President Donald Trump’s White House before President-Elect Joe Biden is inaugurated—takes a look at many different facets regarding intellectual property, but it was sure to make mention of the pirating of streaming content and detailed steps the administration has taken and recommends moving forward.

“Global sales and use of ISDs [illicit streaming devices] is growing and poses a direct threat to content creators, sports leagues and live performances, as well as legitimate streaming, on-demand and over-the-top media service providers,” the report reads.

The report says that the administration advocates for increased intellectual property enforcement efforts. It makes no mention, however, of the bill that was included in the COVID-19 relief package that reclassifies the act of illegally streaming content for profit from a misdemeanor to a felony. It is unclear how the timing worked out between the writing of the report and the passage of the bill.

Other efforts the administration highlighted in its report include a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Homeland Security Investigations National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and the Motion Picture Association to develop strategies to coordinate public- and private-sector efforts to combat digital piracy. This includes HSI’s Operation Intangibles.

The full Intellectual Property Report is available to read online.

UFC Boss Dana White Has A Surprise For People Illegally Streaming Fights
Nick Venable

Much like the fighters who bloody up the octagon on a regular basis, UFC fans are quite an uproarious bunch, so it was not surprising at all when many of them decried bossman Dana White's decision to once again raise the prices of pay-per-view events going into the highly anticipated UFC 257, which will be back on Fight Island. But for everybody who is flippantly saying they won't pay it, and will instead opt to find a way to stream it illegally, Dana White is coming after you. In theory, at least.

After Dana White shared an Instagram post promoting the upcoming rematch brawl between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, one sarcastic fan thanked White and implied he'd watching the fights via a pirated website. That led to the UFC boss issuing a direct threat to that fan and others, complete with double fist emojis.

Dana White's response was equally threatening and vague AF, since he didn't indicate exactly what he has in mind for curbing illegal streaming of UFC PPV events. Whatever it is, though, he seems pretty confident that some form of vengeance is potentially in the cards. Not only does he imply he's going to "catch" the fan in question – and with three exclamation marks, no doubt – but that there's some kind of surprise punishment will be dished out after the fact. You can tell he meant business, too, because he fully spelled out "fuckers' while the fan had quasi-censored his own "fuxk" above it.

I will go on the record to say I doubt the surprise he's talking about involves someone popping out of a cake. Although that would be a pretty cool way to start off the McGregor-Poirier fight. But what's Dana White actually planning here? Is he going to sic Amanda Nunes on people like he wanted to do with Jake Paul? Or maybe he'll just sic Jake Paul on people...

The world of online pirating has long been a thorn in the side of scripted entertainment projects, from blockbuster movies to epic TV shows, and it's had a measurable effect on the industry over the years. The same can easily be said for pirated sporting events such as UFC PPVs and NFL games, though they don't get quite as much coverage as other forms. and Dana White has taken steps to keep such behavior to a minimum in the past, such as bringing in companies to monitor social media for posts about illegal feeds, and to seek out websites sharing links to such feeds.

Such strategies aren't always successful, and there will always be someone else out there finding ways to host links without drawing the attention of Dana White & Co. But it's certainly possible that White has found a new and surprisingly effective strategy to take down illegal streamers (i.e. "u mother fuckers") going into 2021. I guess we won't know until it gets here, though.

To be sure, not a lot of fans seem to be giving Dana White's threats any weight, since it's not the first time he's spoken out against such behavior. Plus, UFC fans seem to be quite fond at ruffling White's feathers, along with those of just about anybody else in the company. Probably still isn't that smart to antagonize him about pirating his shit in such a public forum, though, even if it does suck that the prices are going up only a year after the last increase.

UFC 257 will go live on ESPN+ on Saturday, January 23, starting at the usual time of 7:00 PST, with prelim fights starting up a couple of hours earlier. While waiting to see all the action, head to our Winter and Spring 2021 TV premiere schedule.

20% Of U.S. Broadband Households Use Ad-Supported OTT, 15% Use 'Freemium' Services
Karlene Lukovitz

Twenty percent of U.S. broadband households currently use an ad-supported OTT service, and 15% use a “freemium” service, according to Parks Associates research.

The research confirms the growing popularity of so-called freemium services — hybrid business models that combine free, ad-supported content with a premium subscription tier.

Currently, there is no clear market leader in the ad-supported and freemium OTT spaces: Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi TV, Peacock and Crackle all score relatively similar adoption rates, reports Parks' Research Director, Steve Nason.

“The newest offering, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, does have the reach, content and profile to disrupt this area, which could further boost usage of ad-based and freemium OTT among U.S. households,” he adds.

Consumer spending was shifting toward OTT services even before the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, as more households continue to cut or trim their pay-TV services.

U.S. broadband households reported spending an average of $16 per month on OTT video service subscriptions in Q1 2020, behind $89 per month on pay-TV services, Parks research showed.

“A prolonged economic contraction could drive households to reduce pay-TV spending more, while also scrutinizing their OTT service stacks,” pointing to continued growing importance for ad-based services in the months ahead, notes Nason.

Frontier Agrees to Fiber-Network Expansion in Plan to Exit Bankruptcy

350,000 homes and businesses in Calif. to get fiber after Frontier bankruptcy.
Jon Brodkin

Frontier Communications has agreed to expand its fiber-to-the-premises network and improve its poor service quality as part of a bankruptcy settlement in California. Frontier committed to deploy fiber to 350,000 homes and businesses within six years on a schedule that would require the first 100,000 by the end of 2022, 250,000 by the end of 2024, and the full 350,000 by year-end 2026.

The settlement, filed in late December, is pending approval by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Frontier agreed to the terms with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a union that represents Frontier employees; The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a consumer-advocacy group; and Cal Advocates, the public advocate office at CPUC.

To ensure that Frontier doesn't build only in wealthy areas, the 350,000-location deployment must include 150,000 customer locations where Frontier estimates it would receive less than a 20 percent "internal rate of return." For those 150,000 locations, Frontier will have to consult with the CWA, TURN, Cal Advocates, and tribal government leaders "to discuss the potential areas for deployment, including tribal lands and tribal communities," the settlement said.

"As part of the proposed settlement, Frontier will be required to spend at least $1.75 billion over the next four years on service quality and network enhancement projects, as well as provide a detailed plan with input from CWA, TURN and Cal Advocates that identifies needs like plant repair, maintenance, hiring, and how Frontier intends to address them," the CWA said in a press release last week. The union said it also "secured a commitment from Frontier to maintain its total employee technician staffing in California over the next three years, and to maintain ten call center locations across the state."

Another settlement clause requires Frontier to spend $11.6 million over four years to deploy 25Mbps download speeds at 4,000 additional locations on tribal lands. The required upload speeds for this buildout are only 2Mbps, so it likely wouldn't involve fiber-to-the-home. But tribal areas should get some fiber as part of Frontier's requirement to deploy at 150,000 low "rate of return" areas.

Frontier agreed to temporary price controls, as it "will not increase residential rates for copper-based standalone voice services, fiber-based standalone basic voice service, copper-based broadband services, and copper-based voice/broadband bundles through December 31, 2021," the settlement said. Frontier will also have to "provide a host of detailed, recurring reports" on network spending, service quality, and broadband commitments to help advocacy groups and the state monitor the company's compliance.

Frontier failed to invest in fiber

Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2020 after admitting its financial problems were caused in part by "significant under-investment in fiber deployment." Frontier provides Internet service in 25 states and has a track record of chronic outages, poor customer service, and missing broadband-deployment deadlines after taking government funding. Frontier is aiming to exit bankruptcy early in 2021.

If approved by state officials, the settlement would require Frontier to issue customer credits of $5 a day when outages last more than 24 hours, or $10 a day on tribal lands. That provision would be in effect for three years. Frontier also "agreed to be subject to enhanced penalties in the form of additional investment of up to $7 million per year" if the company fails to meet the state's service-quality standards.

Frontier also reached a separate settlement with the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) that's geared toward improving broadband access for people with low incomes, tribal residents, and other underserved populations. This includes distributing 20,000 Wi-Fi-capable devices to low-income students by the end of 2021 and expanding eligibility for public Wi-Fi deployments or free broadband at community locations like schools and libraries.

"Frontier has also agreed to continue to offer its Affordable Broadband and Frontier Fundamental low-income broadband service plans at equal or lower pricing than current rates for an additional time period through December 31, 2023," the settlement with CETF said.

Trump’s Twitter Account is Permanently Suspended ‘Due to the Risk of Further Incitement of Violence.’

President Trump’s Twitter account was permanently suspended on Friday after he incited his supporters to invade the Capitol in a riotous mob.

Twitter said on Friday that it had permanently suspended President Trump from its service “due to the risk of further incitement for violence,” effectively cutting him off from his favorite methods of communicating with the public and capping a series of actions by mainstream sites to limit his online reach.

The move came two days after supporters of Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol, leading to at least five deaths. Mr. Trump praised the rioters in multiple tweets, including one saying, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

Twitter said in a blog post on Friday, “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

In its blog post, Twitter said that “plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on Jan. 17, 2021.” It said that Mr. Trump’s tweets since Wednesday’s attack were “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.”

The suspension comes a day after Mr. Trump was barred from using Facebook for the remainder of his term, and on the heels of a number of other digital platforms limiting Mr. Trump from their services.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, called Twitter’s decision “disgusting.”

“Big Tech wants to cancel all 75M @realDonaldTrump supporters,” Mr. Miller tweeted. “If you don’t think they’re coming for you next, you’re wrong.”

Beyond muting Mr. Trump’s biggest megaphone, Twitter’s decision could create headaches for the Trump administration when it comes to complying with the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires the preservation of presidential materials and communications.

— Kate Conger, Mike Isaac and Maggie Astor

Until next week,

- js.

Current Week In Review

Recent WiRs -

January 2nd, December 26th, December 19th, December 12th

Jack Spratts' Week In Review is published every Friday. Submit letters, articles, press releases, comments, questions etc. in plain text English to jackspratts (at) lycos (dot) com. Submission deadlines are Thursdays @ 1400 UTC. Please include contact info. The right to publish all remarks is reserved.

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