Popcorn Time was embraced by millions following its debut earlier this year, but what if there was a similar looking service providing additional features but with a small monthly price tag?
Visually, TVShowTime is clean and tidy. It allows the tracking of TV shows and provides associated content on top of community and social networking features. It’s easy to use – click a series from the 40,000 in its databases and one can quickly begin tracking – and watching.
After adding a show – we chose Game of Thrones – TVShow Time gave us a link to buy the first season on DVD from Amazon. Links also appeared to download the subtitles in a convenient zip file.
Simultaneously a big ‘play’ button marked “watch episode” sat invitingly in the middle of the screen. With a click a new page appeared.
As can be seen from the screenshot, TVShow Time provides two options. The first is a free service offering calender and subtitling downloads, plus links to buy the shows from official online sources including Netflix and iTunes.
The second allows the viewer to sign up to a $7.99 a month subscription with torrent downloading service Put.io (TVShow Time is free). When this external account with Put.io is integrated with TVShow Time, users can access all their TV shows from BitTorrent networks in both 480p and 720p, and collect the resulting episodes from Put.io via HTTP download. Unlike standard Popcorn Time downloads, these are impossible for anti-piracy companies to monitor.
The image below shows the first three already-filled-in torrent sources for Game of Thrones as directed by TVShow Time (Put.io remains a “dumb” service and only takes instruction from users).
So, what we have here, at least on the surface, is a Popcorn Time-style interface on steroids with a small price tag attached for downloads. However, while Popcorn Time is being developed pretty much for free and is visible on the radar of the MPAA, TVShow Time sits very much at the opposite end of the financial spectrum.
According to reports 1, 2, TVShow Time, which operates more or less like many other streaming or torrent-like indexes (with social networking features attached), is sitting on a $500,000 investment. (see update below)
The people who put up the money are hardly lightweights either. They include Jean-David Blanc (Allociné), Deezer founder Daniel Marhely, and telecoms giant Xavier Niel, said to be worth in excess of $8 billion.
The situation provides an interesting contrast.
While the hobbyists behind the several Popcorn Time forks find themselves in the crosshairs of the MPAA, and amateur Swedish subtitlers get raided by the police, a company with serious investment can somehow offer similar functionality without incurring the wrath of the studios.
But when potential rivals have this much influence, it’s probably easier to turn the other way – at least for now.
Update: This article has been updated to correct an error – TVShow Time’s Antonio Pinto confirms investment last year amounted to “less than $500,000.”