BitTorrent today launched BitTorrent Live, a multichannel video streaming app for Apple TV. Think of it as the company’s take on live TV, with initial coverage spanning five areas: news, sports, music, tech, and youth culture. The Apple TV version will arrive this week, and Android, iOS, and OS X versions are expected to follow in June. The app will land on Windows sometime later.
If the name BitTorrent Live sounds familiar, there are two likely reasons. You could be remembering that the app was mentioned when BitTorrent replaced its CEO last month. Or, more likely, it’s because the name has been used before, but not to describe an app.
Back in March 2013, BitTorrent debuted an open beta of BitTorrent Live, its P2P streaming protocol for the masses. “That was early testing of the protocol itself,” a BitTorrent spokesperson told VentureBeat. “That program has since evolved and has been closed. The focus [now] has been on building the first application on top of the protocol.”
In other words, the BitTorrent Live launching today is the first app to use this protocol, and the two just happen to share the same name. Now that we’ve got that confusion sorted, let’s examine what BitTorrent is trying to achieve here: “fixing the way live video streaming works.”
BitTorrent argues that prerecorded online video content has taken off and that on-demand video streaming has established itself as a reliable consumption method, while livestreaming broadcast is still “an ongoing problem in terms of both performance and monetization.” In other words, live television needs to be brought into the Internet age.
BitTorrent Live comes with a free tier of programming that includes the following channels:
- AWE: Formerly known as WealthTV, this 24/7 network is devoted to taking viewers on a journey of how wealth is achieved, used, and enjoyed.
- Clubbing TV: The official media partner of some of the planet’s biggest electro festivals offers exclusive electronic music content from artists and labels, embracing the entire dance music lifestyle.
- FAST&FUN This is a new channel offering an action-packed medley of extreme sports, from car racing and motocross to snowboarding and skateboarding.
- Fightbox: From MMA and boxing to arm wrestling and sumo, Fightbox is a compilation of the finest combat sports.
- Filmbox Arthouse: Special presentations devoted to a particular creative movement (German Expressionism, New Romanian Cinema) or individual filmmakers (The Surreal Art of Salvador Dali, Rossellini’s War Trilogy, etc.) each month.
- Heroes TV: Delivers what action and adventure fanatics want, targeting audiences with multiple programming categories.
- Newsmax: Provides the latest news, expert views, and live programming from your favorite TV hosts and A-list guests.
- NUsicTV: Delivers the finest new independent artists at the forefront of music in a linear broadcast, allowing viewers to discover the vanguard in music without having to search the Internet.
- OANN: Features political analysis and political talk shows, along with network special documentary-style reports.
- One World Sports: Exclusive, live, world-class sporting events and premier matchups, with over 3,000 hours of unduplicated sports programming, annually. Content focus is on live and same-day action from league, championship, and qualification competitions in soccer, basketball, baseball, golf, table tennis, badminton, darts, and more.
- OpenNews TV: Live video talk shows from the best progressive talk radio personalities.
- Pursuit Channel: Programming geared toward hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.
- TWiT: The #1 ranked technology podcast, “This Week in Tech” with Leo Laporte, along with over 20 other top-ranked online shows.
To be frank, this list feels… horribly inadequate. That’s all? BitTorrent promises that additional channels are on the way and will populate three more tiers: subscription-based, ad-supported, and Pay Per View.
It’s clear that the company didn’t really invest a lot of time working on partnerships and relationships in order to debut with an impressive number of channels. Instead, it almost seems like the app is a demo of what is possible.
As the company describes, the app is powered by “our proprietary and patented peer-to-peer live streaming protocol” that lets large audiences view live video “with sub 10-second latency and without the need for an expensive CDN or pre-provisioning.” BitTorrent Live is supposed to solve provisioning and lag time problems.
If BitTorrent turns downloaders into uploaders, BitTorrent Live is supposed to turn viewers into broadcasters.
That sounds great, but BitTorrent has long struggled to deliver on this promise. We’ll know soon enough if this is just another attempt, or is something with real potential.