BitTorrent Inc., the company behind the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, is planning to launch a live streaming TV service with both free and paid options. The company claims it will have better performance than existing services that broadcast live channels over the Internet.
Unveiled today, BitTorrent Live is "a multichannel, live, and linear video streaming platform" based on a peer-to-peer live video streaming protocol that BitTorrent has been developing for a few years. No availability date was announced, but BitTorrent said it will be available on Apple TV, iOS, Android, and Mac.
The company's announcement said that today's live streaming services usually use HTTP Live Streaming and are "notorious for latency issues, also known as lag." The BitTorrent Live protocol is an attempt to solve that problem.
"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 [content delivery network] or pre-provisioning," BitTorrent Inc. said. "With BitTorrent Live, every viewer is also a broadcaster. This allows the video stream to remain strong and for the broadcast to be as scalable as traditional Over-the-Air TV."
The service will have a free tier with channels for news, sports, music, tech, and youth culture. The initial lineup is a bit sparse, with channels including AWE, Clubbing TV, Fast & Fun, Fightbox, Filmbox Arthouse, Heroes TV, Newsmax, NUsicTV, OANN, One World Sports, OpenNews TV, Pursuit Channel, and TWiT (see the list and more details on the channels here).
The channels announced today will be free, while "additional channels will follow; including subscription based, ad supported, and Pay Per View premium tiers," BitTorrent Inc. said.
Online streaming services that feature live channels, such as Sling TV and HBO Now, have had occasional performance problems. Cable TV still has advantages over live online streaming in both reliability and access to live programming, including sports—though Sling TV has closed that gap a bit by signing up ESPN, Fox Sports, and other sports channels. BitTorrent Inc. faces a crowded field, but if it can solve the technical problems and obtain more desirable programming, the company could have a successful product on its hands.
In 2014, BitTorrent Inc. CEO Eric Klinker urged Netflix to switch to a peer-to-peer architecture. Netflix offers on-demand programming instead of live channels, and that company has built its own content delivery network. Netflix has hired employees to develop peer-to-peer technology but hasn't announced any specific plans to use it in production.