BitTorrent Takes Torrent Tech to IP Streaming

BitTorrent is famous as a file sharing site, but has announced a change to its business model – although relying on the same peer-to-peer technology that it uses for torrenting. Going forward, the company will focus on live broadcast video over IP.

Most live video streaming today uses the HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol, but latency is an issue. With that in mind, BitTorrent is releasing BitTorrent Live: a multichannel live and linear streaming platform for all types of content. The app uses a proprietary peer-to-peer protocol, which allows large audiences to view content with sub-10 second latency, and without the need for a content distribution network (CDN) or pre-provisioning.

With BitTorrent Live, viewers are also broadcasters – in the same way that torrents spread the data costs of large downloads amongst multiple users.

The fact that a CDN is not needed means that broadcasters do not need to be concerned about scale. Today’s live streaming methods scale linearly with the size of the audience: broadcasters pay more money as more viewers join. Peer-to-peer streaming, however, means that there is “no incremental cost for audience growth”, BitTorrent wrote last year.

Analyst Comment

The original BBC iPlayer used peer to peer technology, but changed to using HTTP in 2008. (BR)