The future of P2P TV

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During the last year a lot of people discovered the great opportunities that p2p technologies like BitTorrent have. Every day more people discover how convenient it can be to download and watch your favorite TV shows.

A recent study by a Canadian market research firm found that 13 percent of the people between the age of 14 and 29 had watched a TV-show on their computer in the previous week. It’s not hard to imagine how these figures will easily double or triple once there are legal ways to download these shows.

TV broadcasting companies are slowly recognizing the power of p2p distribution. Not only will their shows have the ability to attract more viewers, there are also numerous ways to implement advertising to pay for these investments. The only thing that they have to do is setting up a user friendly interface in which these files can be distributed.

It’s only a matter of time before these new technologies will be available to the general public. First we went from Napster to Itunes, the next step is from Tv-torrents to ..* . The great advantage that Tv-shows have compared to music is that it’s easier to add “commercials”. This means that broadcasting companies make money while the users can watch add supported shows. It’s not hard to imagine a little “social networking” twist similar to the proposed Tioti project. This would encourage both the user friendliness and the customer targeting opportunities. A win-win? Time will tell.

But things are in movement. A couple of months ago the BBC started experimenting with a media player based on BitTorrent. The BBC even developed a “open-source” video codec for the project. The interface of the media player is pretty intuitive and shouldn’t scare people too much (like BitTorrent does to some non-geeks).

And the public seems to be ready for P2P TV. On the Dutch site that lists streams of all shows of the public broadcasting channels, 4 million tv-shows were requested in December, compared to 250.000 at the January 2005. This site is now looking into alternative (P2P) ways to distribute their content, because the streaming costs too much. Yet another great example of cost reduction by using P2P technologies.

But there is more, the DTV project already has a video based tagging community. Projects like TvMe, Pplive and Cybertelly are all experimenting with P2P TV. Allthough a german judge forbid the usage of Cybertelly a couple of months ago, there seems to be no way back for P2P TV.

It’s just a matter of time before things get together, and the big broadcasting companies will jump in. Hang in there.


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