BitTorrent has formally introduced a new file format, BitTorrent Bundle, that it hopes will attract content owners to its platform by allowing them to boost revenues or better promote their content.
BitTorrent's widely used file sharing platform has long been criticized for encouraging piracy. But its new BitTorrent Bundle file is designed to offer content owners a way to profit from the popularity of file sharing by giving creators control over how users would access the material.
Content owners who use the format might require someone to register, pay for the file or take some sort of action before being allowed to access the material.
The first announced use of the file format is in an alliance with Ultra Music that is designed to promote Kaskade's 2012 "Freaks of Nature" tour and upcoming documentary.
Users who download the Ultra Bundle get half the content for free; the other half can be unlocked by registering via email.
For promotional efforts, that means the more the file is shared, the more valuable it becomes.
But it could also be used to encourage sales and has applications for TV and movie content.
In a blog post, BitTorrent VP of marketing Matt Mason noted that the new format would allow "every single piece of content" to "function as a flyer and standalone storefront" so that "the record store was inside the album."
This would allow creators "to reach people who slip through the cracks of traditional retail outlets-the other 40% of the Internet" and "to build content that appreciates in value over time; that grows more powerful each time it is shared," Mason writes.
In other words, the creator of a TV show could put a bundle of content into the format, which could be freely shared throughout the BitTorrent ecosystem. The content owner might give users access to some clips or materials for free. Users who wanted to access the complete episode would have to pay, or register, which would give content owners additional revenue or data that could be used for ad sales.
This would also reduce their dependency on iTunes and other online stores that take a significant cut of their revenue, and give "artists real data about and real access to their fans," Mason argues.