BitTorrent, with peer-to-peer network technology that has been used by millions of consumers to download television programming and other rich-media content, formally released a new commercial service, BitTorrent DNA (Delivery Network Accelerator), which it is marketing to content publishers including media companies, software firms and video-game publishers.
Internet-TV specialist Brightcove -- which delivers content for CBS News, Discovery Communications and MTV Networks -- will be the first BitTorrent DNA customer.
BitTorrent DNA is taking the San Francisco-based company’s proven P2P technology -- first used to illicitly distribute popular TV shows and movies across the Internet but since legitimized by Warner Bros. and other major studios -- and extending it to create a secure, managed peer network that will charge commercial customers for delivery on a per-gigabyte-delivered basis.
BitTorrent DNA is designed to improve the speed of downloading large media files by working with the existing Web infrastructure and leveraging traditional content-delivery networks, origin servers or data-center solutions.
The result, BitTorrent cofounder and president Ashwin Navin said, is a better consumer experience at a lower delivery cost for content companies.
“Brightcove will be pushing video quality up past beyond anything in the past,” Navin said. “It will be very fast downloads, with no buffering and no choppy video playback.”
More important, he added, the technical approach behind DNA -- which uses a distributed network of computers that store and deliver slices of a file that are then made whole by the software client -- will lower delivery costs enough to make providing high-quality Internet video a viable business for content companies.
“The cost to deliver video, in many cases, is substantially greater than the revenue associated with it,” Navin said, adding that the revenue opportunity for an hour-long stream of Internet video with five commercial inserts, even with the type of very high CPMs (cost per thousand homes) enjoyed by the broadcast networks, is only around 20 cents.
“The bandwidth costs alone are in excess of your revenue opportunity, so the current architecture of the Internet clearly needs to change,” Navin said. “This makes a very fundamental improvement on the infrastructure.”
In addition to content companies, BitTorrent will also pitch DNA to telcos and cable and satellite operators through its software-licensing arm. The company sees a large opportunity in placing its software client on “hybrid” digital set-tops that can use a broadband input to pull on-demand video through the Internet to supplement traditional video-delivery channels. Late-model TiVo boxes, for example, can already receive Internet video from Brightcove through a broadband connection, and some EchoStar Communications set-tops do likewise through AT&T’s Homezone service.
BitTorrent’s pitch would be to use the hard-disk storage of digital-video-recorder-enabled, broadband-connected set-tops to create a P2P network among a local or regional universe of cable or satellite subscribers. That would allow a viewer who forgot to record last night’s episode of their favorite show to quickly receive a download of the program from multiple subscribers who did record it.
“A technology like DNA can restore broadcast economics to an on-demand video experience,” BitTorrent chief technology officer Eric Klinker said. “It’s that much more efficient than stacking up a bunch of servers in the headend and having to serve the entire community individual downloads.”