BitTorrent Video Store Delayed
In March, BitTorrent said its store would launch by the end of 2006. But the process of signing up content owners to sell their video via a legitimate P2P network has taken longer than expected. BitTorrent spokeswoman Lily Lin says the launch will take place in "early 2007." (See BitTorrent to Open Video Store.)
BitTorrent signed a major content deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group this summer, but has yet to sign up the other major studios. A Warner Brothers spokesman said his company signed up after becoming convinced that BitTorrent would provide the same level of content security it requires of other broadband distribution channels like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes. BitTorrent uses Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows digital rights management (DRM) software to protect video content.
The studios' content security concerns aren't too surprising since BitTorrent P2P file distribution was previously a preferred method of distributing pirated content. BitTorrent went to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) last year with a promise that it would remove copyright-protected content from its P2P search engine results.
The company's image makeover went so far that it doesn't even use the term P2P anymore. It calls its distribution method "peer-assisted."
Tom Blaisdell, a partner at DCM - Doll Capital Management , one of the companies funding BitTorrent, says the content security concerns of the studios are not slowing down licensing talks. Blaisdell says the studios are already satisfied with BitTorrent's content protection measures. At the current stage, he says, "it's more about getting the right economic deal and getting the right titles."
Blaisdell adds that the timing of BitTorrent's video debut is not as important as the size and quality of the offering. "We're not concerned that we are going to be able to launch in time for the holiday season -- that's not relevant. This is a lifestyle product; we want to launch with thousands of titles, not hundreds."
BitTorrent's Lin says her company intends to sell both low-demand video content (like TV reruns) and more mainstream content (like new Hollywood movies).
BitTorrent delivers video files using a method known as "swarming." Small pieces of the file are gathered from the PCs of users who already have the content, then quickly reassembled on the downloader's PC. Swarming is far faster than a linear download from a central server somewhere.
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading