In a few months TF turns five, and leading up to that milestone we will occasionally look back at how the BitTorrent landscape has changed over the years. Although there is no doubt that BitTorrent has more than quintupled its user base since 2005, there have been only a handful of sites serving a large slice of the masses.
Despite many legal battles and pressure from anti-piracy outfits, the lists of the most visited torrent sites through the years show very little change. In fact, in half a decade only five torrent sites have taken a spot in the top three, and all of these sites were founded before TF launched back in 2005.
This suggests that the ecosystem is more stable and conservative than most think it is. Up to a certain degree this is true, but it’s not entirely invincible. Four out of the five websites have been dragged to court and two of them have suffered serious damage.
TorrentSpy was closed by its owner in 2008 after it lost a court case where it was ordered to hand over details of US-based users to the MPAA. Last year, Mininova decided to delete over a million torrents and restrict new uploads to pre-approved publishers following a court decision where it was ordered to filter content. Two other sites, The Pirate Bay and isoHunt, are still battling in court but continue to operate as of today.
Although only 5 sites have dominated the BitTorrent landscape in the last years, there is still room for new sites to move up. Founded in 2009, the relative newcomer KickassTorrents has already gained a spot in the top 5. If it continues to grow at the same pace as it has in the last few months, it might end up in the top 3 at the end of this year.
Below we’ve listed the top three BitTorrent sites of each year since we started following them. The rankings are based on the number of daily visitors each site had at the end of each year. The Pirate Bay is the only site that appears in all rankings. The 2010 list is reported as of today, and might change before the year is over.