February 2007, BitTorrent Inc. launched its ‘Torrent Entertainment Network’ where users could download movies and TV-shows legally, via BitTorrent. Despite the ever increasing popularity of BitTorrent as a download tool, the store never became profitable and has now closed. The store is replaced by a BitTorrent search portal.
While spending on online video content is increasing, BitTorrent Inc’s Torrent Entertainment Network wasn’t as successful as the company had hoped. Converting the millions of BitTorrent users into paying customers didn’t go as easily as they had hoped, and the DRM restrictions that were enforced by Hollywood were no help either.
In the tough economic climate, which already caused several layoffs at the company, BitTorrent Inc. decided that it was best to close their video store completely. Simon Morris, BitTorrent’s VP of Product Management told TorrentFreak: “After a great deal of soul searching we decided to close down the Torrent Entertainment Network content store.”
“Its about focus and economics,” Morris added. “We want to focus on core technology rather than merchandising and given the harsh economic environment, we can’t afford to continue to invest in endeavors that don’t come close to break-even.”
Together with the closure of their entertainment network, the company reintroduced its search portal for BitTorrent users. Unlike before, there are no torrents indexed or tracked by the companies servers. Instead, it uses a branded version of the Ask.com search engine, where BitTorrent sites are prioritized in the search results.
When BitTorrent Inc. had its own search engine, the company had an agreement with the MPAA to filter search results. According to Morris this is no longer needed now. “We agreed to filter search results when we were in the business of torrent search, but that work is also discontinued. This is Ask’s search engine, not ours.”
“The decision to work with Ask is simply an effort to provide people who come to download the client with a place to go next,” Morris added. While the search engine will generate some income, most future revenue is expected to come from content publishers that use BitTorrent’s DNA, and deals with device manufacturers.