BitTorrent streaming is based on the BitTorrent protocol, with some clever modifications to make streaming possible. P2P streaming significantly lowers the costs for the content provider, it therefore opens up the door to higher quality streams than we are used to now, and it is a great alternative to http streaming that websites like YouTube use at the moment.
Here’s a demo of a BitTorrent accelerated demo video that is available worldwide. In order to play the video you need to install BitTorrent DNA and restart your browser. This demo also shows how much bandwidth you share with other peers who are watching the same video. It works like this; the user who wants to watch a stream first has to install the BitTorrent DNA application, which is also bundled with the BitTorrent mainline client. When the user plays a BitTorrent accelerated stream it will not only download data, but also upload it to other people who are watching the same stream, similar to a regular BitTorrent download.
Most ISPs probably wont be happy with peer-to-peer streaming because their customers will use even more bandwidth, but it will be a great cost saver for sites like Youtube. In fact, it is safe to say that it could save them thousands of dollars a day in bandwidth costs. TorrentFreak talked to Ashwin Navin, president and co-founder of BitTorrent Inc., and he told us: “It’s safe to say that this product is relevant to all major players in the video space. Any company who is pushing lots of video can benefit from BitTorrent DNA, because it’s very easy to implement, and it delivers dramatic benefits. Whether a company is delivering video, software, or games, BitTorrent DNA can increase the reliability, efficiency, and quality of content delivery. Users notice the benefits immediately when streams are higher quality and are no longer choppy.”
The Watch Now section currently list thousands of clips, some of which are supported by ads. Unfortunately it is only available in the US at the moment, but this will change in the near future. Ashwin told TorrentFreak that this is just a soft launch, international versions will be rolled out as soon as we identify some sponsors to make them available. Another downside is that there are no big movie or TV distributors in the “Watch Now” program just yet, but they are always a bit behind when it comes to technological innovation. However, this does not mean that they start empty, Ashwin told us: “Our partners have published some great content, such as the entire “Ring” series in Japanese, the “Zatoichi” sequels, and hit Bollywood films like “Rang De Basanti”, which have huge fans around the world. We even have some stand-up comedy and special interest automotive videos from GT Channel.”
BitTorrent Inc’s next step will be to move beyond the PC environment into other consumer electronics devices such as moblile phones and DVD-players. The possibilities are endless, as Ashwin notes: “We will soon be announcing more progress with device manufacturers integrating BitTorrent technology into the next-generation of consumer electronics. Between the hardware makers and a new slate of partners deploying BitTorrent DNA, I believe the BitTorrent ecosystem will grow from its current 150 million installed clients to a billion clients installed in the next few years.”
Interesting times, stay tuned!