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BitTorrent Live aims to save live-streaming video from lag issues, outages

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Streaming video providers obviously want to pull in massive audiences, but these audiences can often bring some problems with them. Not only do they mean increased operating costs, but as HBO Go outages during Game of Thrones and multiple issues related to large live-streaming events have shown, they can also lead to technical issues.

BitTorrent, Inc. aims to solve this with its upcoming multichannel streaming video platform BitTorrent Live, which the company announced Tuesday. Using a technology similar to the peer-to-peer file sharing that the company’s name is associated with, which has been tweaked for live streaming, the company claims that BitTorrent Live offers up live video with lag time of less than 10 seconds.

Currently, most streaming services use HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) for live-streaming, but as audiences have noticed, this protocol has issues with latency, especially as viewer numbers grow. With BitTorrent Live, each viewer is also broadcasting a part of the stream as they view it, turning large audiences from a technical problem into a solution. The company says this technique allows live-streaming to scale as seamlessly as over-the-air broadcast television.

“The power of broadcasting has always been around building a huge audience,” BitTorrent Live VP of media Erik Schwarz told Digital Trends. “Streaming broke that model because every incremental viewer cost the broadcaster money. BitTorrent Live gives broadcasters back the model that made broadcasting.”

Earlier this year, BitTorrent launched OTT News, an app that offered live coverage of election news. At the time, the company said that the app was a “test case for live-streaming.” That app used the same technology as BitTorrent Live, so it has been proven that it does indeed work.

BitTorrent Live will offer both live and linear programming across topics including news, sports, music, tech, and youth culture. A free tier of programming will be available at launch, with channels including Fightbox, Heroes TV, NewsMax, One World Sports, and TWiT. The channels offer linear programming, but will also feature live events.

Following the launch, BitTorrent Live plans to offer subscription-based, ad-supported, and pay-per-view premium tiers in addition to the base free tier. Supported platforms haven’t been announced yet, but given that OTT News was available for the Apple TV, iOS, and Android, it seems a safe bet that at least those platforms will be supported. For more information, see the BitTorrent blog.

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