Earlier this year, the torrent community was hit hard when another major torrent site suddenly shut its doors.
Just a few months after celebrating its tenth anniversary, ExtraTorrent’s operator threw in the towel. While an official explanation was never provided, it’s likely that he was pressed to make this decision.
The ExtraTorrent site was a safe harbor for millions of regular users, who became homeless overnight. But it was more than that. It was also the birth ground of several popular releasers and distribution groups.
ETTV and ETHD turned into well-known brands themselves. While the ET is derived from ExtraTorrent, the groups have shared TV and movie torrents on several other large torrent sites, and they still do. They even have their own site now.
With millions of people sharing their uploads every week, they’ve become icons and heroes to many. But how did this all come to be? We sat down with the team, virtually, to find out more.
“The idea for ettv/ethd was brought up by ExtraTorrent users,” the ETTV team says.
There was demand for a new group that would upload scene releases faster than the original EZTV, which was the dominant TV-torrent distribution group around 2011, when it all started.
“At the time the real EZTV was still active. They released stuff hours after it was released from the scene, leaving sites to wait very long for shows to arrive in public. In no way was ettv intended for competitive purposes. We had a lot of respect for Nova and the original EZTV operators.”
While ETTV is regularly referred to as a “group,” it was a one-person operation initially. Just a guy with a seedbox, grabbing scene releases and posting them on torrent sites.
It didn’t take long before people got wind of the new distribution ‘group,’ and interest for the torrents quickly exploded. This meant that a single seedbox was no longer sufficient, but help was not far away.
“It started off with one operator and a seedbox, but it became popular too fast. That’s when former ExtraTorrent owners stepped in to give ETTV the support and funding it needed to keep the story going.”
In addition to the available disk space and bandwidth, the team itself expanded as well. At its height, a handful of people were working on the group. However, when things became more and more automated this number reduced again.
What many people don’t realize is that ETTV and ETHD are mostly run by lines of code. The entire distribution process is automated and requires minimal intervention from the people behind it.
“Ettv/Ethd is a bot, it doesn’t require human attention. It grabs what you tell the script to,” the team tells us.
The bot is set up to grab the latest copies of predefined shows from private servers where the latest scene release are posted. These are transferred to the seedbox and the torrents are then pushed out to the public – on ETTV.tv, but also on The Pirate Bay and elsewhere. Everything is automated.
Even most of the maintenance is taken care of by the ‘bot’ itself. When disk space is running out older content is purged, allowing fresh releases to come through.
“The only persons involve with the bots are the bill payers of our new home ettv.tv. All they do check bot logs to see if it has any errors and correct them,” the team explains.
One problem that couldn’t be easily solved with some code was the shutdown of ExtraTorrent. While the bills for the seedboxes were paid in advance until the end of 2017, the groups had to find a new home.
“The shutdown of ExtraTorrent didn’t affect the bots from running, it just left ettv/ethd homeless and caused fans to lose their way trying to find us. Not many knew where else we uploaded or didn’t like the other sites we uploaded to.”
After a few months had passed it became clear that they were not going anywhere. Quite the contrary, they started their very own site, ETTV.tv, where all the latest releases are published.
In the near future, the team will focus on turning the site into a new home for its followers. Just a few weeks ago it launched a new release “tag,” ETMovies, which specializes in lower resolution films with a smaller file size, for example.
“We recently introduced ETMovies which is basically for SD Movies, other than that the only plan ettv/ethd has is to give a home to the members that suffered from the sudden shut down of ExtraTorrent.”
Just this week, the site also expanded its reach by adding new categories such as music, games, software, and Books, where approved uploaders will publish content.
While they are doing their best to keep the site up and running, it’s not a given that ETTV will be around forever. As long as there are plenty of funds and no concrete legal pressure they might. But if recent history has shown us anything, it’s that there are no guarantees.
“No one is here seeking to be a millionaire, if the traffic pays the bills we keep going, if not then all we can say is (sorry we tried) we will not be the heroes that saved the day.
“Again and again, the troublesome history of torrent sites is clear. It’s a war no site owner can win. If we are ever in danger, we will choose freedom. It’s not like followers can bail you out if the worst were to happen,” the ETTV team concludes.
For now, however, the bot keeps on running.