BitTorrent to Crowdfund TV-Show Through New Paywall


BitTorrent Inc, the company behind the popular file-sharing client uTorrent, will allow artists to charge for their content starting in September. The paywall option aims to generate a healthy revenue stream for artists and film producer Marco Weber will be one of the first to try it out. Weber will share a pilot of his upcoming TV-show "Children of the Machine" which will be made if BitTorrent users cough up $2.5 million.

bundleFollowing in the footsteps of FrostWire and VODO, BitTorrent Inc. launched an artist promotion program a few years ago.

The idea was to let artists share their work for free, exposing it to millions of BitTorrent users all around the world.

Helped by a massive user base of more than 170 million the program has been very successful. But, aside from promotion some artists would also like to see some hard cash in return. This is now an option thanks to the “paygate” uTorrent’s parent company will launch this September.

The walled content can only be accessed and shared after a user pays a fixed fee to the creator. To prevent users from sharing it without permission there will be some restrictions in place.

The paywall idea was initially announced last year and film producer Marco Weber will be one of the first to try it in the wild. Through BitTorrent, Weber will release a pilot of the new TV-series “Children of the Machine” and those who like it can pay $9.95 to buy the entire series.

“If viewers fall in love with the show, they can purchase the entire series in advance via Bundle paygates. Once the funding threshold is reached — 250K subscribers — the first season will be produced, and delivered back to the fans who kicked in to support the project,” BitTorrent announces.

The filmmaker chose the crowdfunding format, which means that if the project is not funded the series will never see the light of day. This is a serious possibility as no artists have ever raised more than a few thousand dollars, even though many have tried.

The film producer is nevertheless confident that the the project will turn into a success.

“With over 170 million users, BitTorrent is a powerhouse. Add in paygates, and you have a fantastic tool to distribute content to a growing, influential youth audience,” Weber says.

The good news is that many of these millions of BitTorrent users are already familiar with downloading TV-shows, be it without permission. However, an often heard excuse for this deviant behavior is that it takes too long before an episode becomes available through legal channels, so whether these people will be patient enough to prepay a series months in advance will remain to be seen.

Both Weber and BitTorrent Inc. have to be applauded for giving it a try and it will be interesting to see the results.

BitTorrent isn’t the first to experiment with these new models though. The VODO platform has used a similar paywall system for quite some time, and together with The Pirate Bay and several other torrent sites they helped to crowdfund the TV-series Pioneer One.

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