Dutch Public Television Tries BitTorrent Downloads

The Dutch public broadcasting organization NPO has launched a trial project which will see it publish all recent video broadcasts via BitTorrent downloads and streams. With the trial NPO wants to gauge the demand for BitTorrent downloads, and whether P2P technology can cut down distribution costs significantly.

npoWith an ambitious trial, NPO is the first public broadcaster worldwide to make all its latest content available to stream or download via BitTorrent.

The goal of the trial is to assess the demand for downloadable content and whether it’s possible to effectively reduce the bandwidth costs of the streaming platform currently in use. The decision to use BitTorrent, the most efficient P2P protocol, was an easy one.

Through the current platform NPO streams are watched more than 13 million times per month. With the BitTorrent-powered streams, users will offer their own bandwidth which means that streaming costs could go down drastically.

NPO has partnered on the project with the Dutch company Bitnomica, who use the Open Source Swarmplayer software developed at the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands. Due to rights issues, viewers have to use a special player through which the files will be viewable for 10 days after the initial broadcast. They can download the .tstream files with most of the regular BitTorrent clients, but the player seems to work best.

NPO’s BitTorrent Library

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Currently, only a few hundred recent videos are available, but a back-catalogue of tens of thousands could be added if the half-year trial turns out to be a success. During the trial NPO aims to put as much fresh content on BitTorrent as possible, with daily updates of all the latest video broadcasts.

Although NPO is the first major TV broadcaster to widely adopt BitTorrent, there have been others who’ve made videos available this way. Norwegian public broadcasting organization (NRK) has previously set up its very own BitTorrent tracker to distribute several of their TV-shows, DRM free. In Canada, public television broadcaster CBC used BitTorrent to distribute one of its TV-shows after they ran into distribution problems.

If successful, this trial could be a major breakthrough for BitTorrent-powered streaming as it might convince other parties to try it out and get a taste of the future of web-based video delivery. In the UK the BBC has been eager to adopt BitTorrent as well. They did a trial earlier this year but thus far rights issues have contributed in holding back a roll-out on a wider scale.

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