The Future Will Not Be Downloaded (It Will Be Streamed)

The rise of Netflix and Hulu have been accompanied by a rise in something else: Following the law.

In the spring of 2011, for the first time in history, Netflix streaming overtook peer-to-peer file sharing (read: film pirating) in the United States' bandwidth usage. In layman's terms, that means there were more people using the web to access legal content than there were thieves using it to undermine film companies and record labels, which had long been the norm. It was a great day for Netflix and businesses like Paramount Pictures, as it was the harbinger of a more law-abiding future.

Give the average American a choice between paying a reasonable price for something she wants or stealing it and facing the legal ramifications, most will choose to pay for that good or service. But for years Americans' entertainment desires—affordable TV and movies in the home and on demand—were outpacing what technology was providing. Thus: downloading. Today sites like Netflix and Hulu give people thousands of legal options to choose from when they're looking for something to watch. Besides being great entertainment, Netflix is proving that the majority of people are not thieves.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user swanksalot