BitTorrent Live P2P video streaming protocol to be free for all

We first heard of BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer video streaming protocol two years ago, when creator Bram Cohen demoed it. The protocol was supposed to be finished in the summer of 2011 and, well, that didn’t happen. Now dubbed BitTorrent Live, the streaming tech appears to be in the final stretch. An open beta kicked off earlier this month, and a patent application has been filed for the protocol.

Don’t be too worried about the patent, by the way. Cohen told TorrentFreak that BitTorrent Live will be free to use whether you’re broadcasting or watching content. It seems the BitTorrent folks will be discouraging third-party clients, though. “Poorly behaved peers can impact everyone,” Cohen says, and the protocol is “tricky to implement.”

Although peer-to-peer live streaming was a tough nut to crack, Cohen claims BitTorrent Live is capable of broadcasting content to “millions of people with just a few seconds of latency.” Because it’s a peer-to-peer protocol, the bandwidth costs for the broadcaster should be minimal.

A few seconds of latency sounds like a lot, but it’s not a big deal for live broadcasts that often include delays to catch wardrobe malfunctions and those seven words you can never say on television. As Cohen points out, live broadcasting is one thing that traditional cable providers have always done better than Internet alternatives. BitTorrent Live aims to change that, and it sounds like Cohen is particularly keen on recruiting independent broadcasters in addition to more traditional content producers.

Only a small number of BitTorrent Live channels are broadcasting right now, and the quality of the content varies widely. That said, I’m getting less than a second of latency streaming an insane-looking Russian game show in which two-on-two MMA matches go down on a stage that looks like it’s been ripped out of a video game. Live sports seem particularly well suited to BitTorrent Live, and I’ll be watching closely to see whether the protocol gains popularity. Sporting events are really the only thing I get from my cable provider that I can’t view easily elsewhere.

Comments closed
    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    so who will host the bandwidth? obviously a single user wont be able to withstand multi file streaming to multiple clients so i am guessing that it will be really slow until more users join in.

    • Mr Bill
    • 7 years ago

    Hmm, well does not run in WinXP-64. 🙁

      • Nutmeg
      • 7 years ago

      Get W7 you luddite.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    It’ll be interesting to see how this affects streaming for gaming, if at all. It may just end up with websites being aggregators for independent feeds, unless bittorrent does this themselves. I don’t think it would be possible for aggregators to insert ads or other things into the stream, which could limit revenue for people who work off of it. Each broadcaster would be responsible for their own ads (which isn’t very feasible on a massive peer created content system, such as Twitch or Google).

    Then again we may see a new sort of revenue system pop up for torrentstreams.

    • Game_boy
    • 7 years ago

    Twitch.tv already won though? P2P isn’t needed.

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      Twitch.tv is centralized. P2P isn’t. It is needed.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    I think you’ll see marked resistance by the very players he needs to work with it because of the perceived damage done by the Bit Torrent protocol. That said, I think resistance would be felt anyway because I doubt the content providers who already have lucrative contracts with the way things ARE want things to stay the same. They don’t want to risk change and risk losing control like the music industry has.

    It’s a shame because something like this could give us what we all need: freedom from the cable networks and the cable companies that provide them.

    The problem is these are the very companies that form the ISP’s that also give us our Data Pipe. As long as that continues to be true (where a company with a priority other than Data Pipes is running them), we won’t see advances like this get very much traction.

    Now if Google were to show up with high speed data offerings everywhere, the cable companies would suddenly make rapid advances in offerings at incredible prices and at great speeds. They would because they’d have to.

    But like with nVidia vs AMD and Intel vs AMD, if you don’t have anyone to compete against, you can Titan up your lineup and keep people running the same speed with little price change for years at a time with no worry of attrition.

    So I imagine this interesting tech with a lot of potential remains mostly used by the illegitimate and shunned by the very companies who could make it fly. Then a self-fulfilling prophecy will ensue where the companies not supporting it and making it legit will decry it as used only for illegitimate purposes even though they COULD have used it to both mitigate the damage done by those illegitimate sources and expand their own reach much farther than they can now by making it a “legit” tech.

    But as is typical, corporations are people, just people with limited imaginations.

      • Mr. Eco
      • 7 years ago

      You know, people browse quickly over the many news on the web and on the comments, thus skipping most of the text you wrote.

        • brute
        • 7 years ago

        i dont know if im a people but i read it

        • Shambles
        • 7 years ago

        You are free to choose to be less intelligent than others if you so wish.

          • brute
          • 7 years ago

          reading some post from some guy on some website doesnt seem to be something that’d affect intelligence

          • bcronce
          • 7 years ago

          People who read less are more intelligent. Gotcha /joke

    • Lazier_Said
    • 7 years ago

    Just wait until the copyright trolls get their mitts on this one.

    • Great_Big_Abyss
    • 7 years ago

    I hope this eventually gets translated into major sporting events, particularly hockey.

    Watching Jets games (Winnipeg, not NY) is really the only reason I have cable TV. We don’t watch TV any other time, preferring to do all our consumption off the internet.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Why not subscribe to NHL TV then? $49 a year for all the coverage you can eat.

    • way2strong
    • 7 years ago

    Software patents ftw. I really don’t know what they were thinking when they made TCP et al. Those died due to lack of patenting.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 7 years ago

    Huh, this is the first I’ve heard of it.

    I’m actually stoked about this. I’ve been wanting to see cable die for a long time.

      • bcronce
      • 7 years ago

      IPv6 has multicasting built in, and what I understand, is working on the public Internet. You can send a 1Mb/s stream to 1,000,000 devices and it will only consume 1Mb/s of bandwidth.

        • Mr. Eco
        • 7 years ago

        Thus rendering this new application protocol unneeded?

          • stdRaichu
          • 7 years ago

          When the telcos finally go through with adopting IPv6, sure. So this protocol will be obsoleted in as little as fifty years! 😉

            • indeego
            • 7 years ago

            Reminds me of Google Fiber. Three cities in 5 years! Only a few hundred thousand years to get all the rest!

          • bcronce
          • 7 years ago

          It’ll still be useful, especially while people are still stuck with IPv4, it just won’t be as useful for as many cases.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 7 years ago

        Interesting. So this sounds like a stopgap measure.

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      It sounds pretty awesome, but I really hope they extend the protocol to third-parties. That’s a dealbreaker for me. No offense to Mr. Cohen, but I like open-source.

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