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BitTorrent Is Launching a Livestreaming Service

BitTorrent Live is going to "fix the way live video streaming works."

by Steve Huff
May 17 2016, 3:00pm

Screencap of TWiT.tv's Lisa and Leo Laporte.

BitTorrent, the biggest name in file sharing, is already responsible for a huge chunk of internet traffic every day. Now the company has decided to double down with a nearly real-time livestreaming service called BitTorrent Live.

BitTorrent says BitTorrent Live will not be competing with the burgeoning Facebook Live. "Think of it more like an alternate to Hulu," Christian Averill, vice president of marketing, told Motherboard.

However, the fact that it is hosting livestreams means BitTorrent Live will be competing on some level with YouTube Live, Twitch, and other live broadcasting platforms.

Its focus seems to be on professionally-created content, however, rather than the type of low-production value stunts Facebook Live is becoming known for. Only BitTorrent's partners will be able to use the platform to stream.

In a release, BitTorrent emphasized that since the company's founding 12 years ago, it has "changed the way the internet works, and more than once." Now it's hoping to do that again by "fixing the way live video streaming works."

While pre-packaged programming—think Netflix, Youtube, Amazon's streaming services for TV shows and movies—has benefitted from "enormous innovation" in the way it's distributed online, BitTorrent says "there has been very little innovation around the distribution of live video on the internet."

It will be fascinating to see if BitTorrent can make a name for its live product through either stability or its range of programming

The new service will be supported by BitTorrent's peer-to-peer livestreaming protocol, which the company said will make it as stable as over-the-air TV.

Several channels featuring live events are on board for the launch, spanning sports, news, and tech. One of the sports-focused channels is Fightbox, which covers MMA and boxing. The news channels on the free tier are an interesting balance that includes live programming from conservative outlet Newsmax as well as OpenNews TV, which BitTorrent's release describes as "live video talk shows from the best progressive talk radio personalities." Leo Laporte's TWiT.tv Netcast Network with its suite of more than 20 online shows will also be using BitTorrent Live.

As anyone who's ever used a live-streaming service even once knows, none of them are perfect or stable. It will be fascinating to see if BitTorrent can make a name for its live product through either stability or its range of programming.

BitTorrent seems to have cable and satellite TV in its sights as well. According to the company's release, the future of BitTorrent Live sounds a lot like a cable package. It will include "subscription based, ad supported, and Pay Per View premium tiers."

"BitTorrent Live is the platform that can turn large scale live streaming into a business model," Eric Schwartz, BitTorrent Live's vice president of media, said in a statement.

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