Regulators have been grappling for years with the illegal downloading of films and music, but a new study has shown that peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing - a common source of illegal downloads - has seen a significant decline, as YouTube and Netflix gain in popularity.
P2P filesharing now accounts for less than 10 percent of total daily internet traffic in North America, down from 31 percent five years ago, according to the Global Internet Phenomena report published by Sandvine. It also found that Netflix and Youtube now account for over 50 percent of downloaded content.
It comes as an increasing number of people are signing up to video-on-demand services, analysts told CNBC, due in part to a rise in tablet ownership. Netflix, for instance, added 1.3 million subscribers in the three months up to the end of September.
(Read more: Soaring Netflix viewership rivals big TV networks)
"Television (programs) are becoming divorced from the TV and viewed on other devices like tablets. Tablets really push video streaming," Paul Davies, senior technology analyst at Mintel, told CNBC.
He said Netflix's competitive pricing - as well as free video content on YouTube – meant consumers had turned away from watching TV shows and films illegally.
"Compared to the past when you had to buy one film for £10 ($16) or rent it, people are now more willing to pay for a subscription, rather than go through the hassle and risk of using illegal downloads," Davies said.