BOSTON -- File-sharing service BitTorrent is continuing to shift away from the established perception of the company as a piracy facilitator, announcing the impending launch of BitTorrent Live, a linear streaming video platform that will feature numerous live events through several participating networks. More interesting is that those live events will be delivered to viewers with a less than 10-second lag between the broadcast signal and the over-the-top stream, the company said.
"Powered by our proprietary and patented peer-to-peer live streaming protocol, BitTorrent Live allows for large audiences to view live video with sub 10-second latency and without the need for an expensive CDN or pre-provisioning," said Christian Averill, VP of communications and brand for BitTorrent, in a blog post.
BitTorrent demonstrated the service here at INTX, but an official launch date to the public has not yet been announced. The service will have an initial free tier with 13 live linear channels such as AWE, Clubbing TV, Newsmax, One World Sports and a tech podcast.
For BitTorrent, it's an interesting reposition into the wider online video world. The linear multichannel service will position it in the same area as FilmOn X, YipTV and similar linear channel aggregators that offer a free tier. A subscription option – not announced, but it sounds as if it will do so – will help monetize the offering.
However, the low-latency livestream claim would put BitTorrent in the same realm as NetInsight, a Swedish vendor that is shopping its sub-10 second latency solution around to broadcasters and other content owners.
NetInsight relies on having a measure of control all the way back in its customers' playout facilities in order to "sync" the broadcast and streaming feeds (meaning, they delay the broadcast playout by a few seconds in order for the livestream to match, according to the NetInsight engineers we chatted with at NAB). BitTorrent doesn't appear to be doing the same thing, relying instead on "proprietary" and patented peer-to-peer delivery methods. However, both vendors are bypassing the CDN (content delivery network) to avoid at least that step in the delivery process and the additional latency -- from 40 seconds to more than two minutes -- that causes.
In the short term, however, a linear service will bolster BitTorrent's bid for an improved image. The company replaced its CEO, Eric Klinker, with two co-CEOs, Jeremy Johnson and Robert Delamar, in April. (Klinker remained aboard in a technical role.) It's also promising to refresh its Bundle platform to allow user-created livestreams through mobile apps as an ad-supported service.
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