BitTorrent, the company, has been working on a peer-to-peer live video streaming protocol for ages. Granted, it's fairly complicated stuff so it's no wonder it's taking a while. But the wait is over, BitTorrent is ready to unveil BitTorrent Live, in Beta.
The new streaming portal
is live and users can already watch several streams. Anyone can sign up to broadcast their own streams as well.
Everything is free for now. Users will need to install a plugin to watch videos though, something that is definitely going to curb the appeal.
There are a number of streaming video platforms out there, but one of BitTorrent's big advantages is that it's free. Even if it started charging, it would be a lot cheaper than any of the alternatives for one simple reason, the costs of distributing the video are close to zero.
Because of the peer-to-peer technology, most of the data comes from other peers, i.e. other people watching the same clip, rather than from a central server.
Aside from the price, there's another advantage that may prove even bigger, the more people watch the better the experience becomes.
Even established services such as Ustream or LiveStream can buckle under the pressure when one stream becomes incredibly popular.
That would never happen with BitTorrent Live, quite the contrary, more people joining means more peers, which translates into a better experience for everyone.
There's more, because there's no single source for the video, censoring a stream would be significantly harder than just blocking a site like YouTube. There is great potential for a peer-to-peer video streaming technology and now that it's finally here, BitTorrent may have an important tool on its hands.
Still, in an age where the web is moving away from plugins and proprietary technologies, BitTorrent Live requires people to install a plugin before they can watch anything.