Online Entertainment

BitTorrent Aims to Hasten Flow of Video Downloads

BitTorrent, the company whose Internet file-sharing technology is perhaps best known for the illegal trafficking of copyrighted content, has launched a new service designed to let media companies use its technology to blast out faster streams of online content over their legitimate channels.

The service, called “BitTorrent Delivery Network Accelerator (DNA),” will let commercial content publishers, including media companies, software firms and video game publishers, utilize their customers’ or members’ PCs — and their broadband Internet connections — to deliver video and files.

The problem with more traditional Web video technologies that stream content from centralized servers is that as they become ever more popular, the downloads tend to slow down, leading to choppy video streams, lost customer connections, and crashed servers. Even if a media company’s infrastructure can handle high loads, they still have to pay for their Internet bandwidth.

More Users, Better Experience

The BitTorrent promise is that the download speeds can actually increase as more and more users view popular content.

“The reason it gets better with more users is there are more sites hosting the material — the users host collectively,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

If torrent technology works well with very popular content, then how does it work with relatively unknown content when there aren’t many PCs working to deliver it?

“A brand new file may take a while to propagate, but other than that, it should be fine,” Enderle said, noting that low-demand files could come directly from the central host, using more traditional video and file serving methods to ensure high-speed quality. A company can move as much as 80 percent of its streaming load to BitTorrent DNA, according to the company.

The Next Wave

“The Internet has become an essential source of entertainment for everything from music, games to TV shows, and even high-definition movies. Given the rapidly growing BitTorrent network, we already have the broadcast infrastructure in place that effectively multiplies the scale of the existing Internet to handle the next wave of content distribution,” said Ashwin Navin, president and cofounder of BitTorrent.

“Implementing BitTorrent DNA on top of legacy infrastructure has the profound impact of allowing our customers to deliver a better user experience, higher quality video, faster software downloads, all with the security and reliability of a managed service,” he added.

Brightcove Onboard

Brightcove, an Internet TV service that lets video producers and programmers to build and deliver video content online, is the first media company to use BitTorrent DNA.

“In the last two years, Internet TV has transformed the Web by bringing the storytelling power of video directly into sites, but contextual and viral video clips are only the beginning,” said Jeremy Allaire, chairman and chief executive officer of Brightcove.

“Now the industry is ready for the next major leap in the evolution of Internet TV, and that’s gracefully extending from short video clips on sites into full-length programs and movies delivered via the Internet to PCs,” he explained.

The BitTorrent DNA-based service is called “Brightcove Show,” and it lets content publishers deliver high-quality video through their own Web sites, which lets them retain their relationships with their viewing audience.

Marvel.com, for example, is working on delivering online videos using Brightcove Show. “Fans can now access theater-mode experiences for selected content on our site, such as the Iron Man movie trailer, which really comes to life in this new format,” noted John Dokes, Marvel vice president of online operations and marketing.

Torrent of the Future?

As consumers look to download and stream ever larger media files, including high-definition videos, traditional video servers might be not be able to handle surges in consumer interest. BitTorrent, however, isn’t the only company working the next generation of video-serving solutions.

“There are some technologies like BitGravity that also can stream HD files quickly,” Enderle noted. “We will likely see a blend of technologies used over time.”

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