Even now, some may still associate the BitTorrent name with the shady activities its namesake protocol can be used for, but when the company first launched its Bundle platform in 2013, that was pretty much all it was associated with. When the Bundle platform became available to all artists in 2014 to help them distribute and be paid for their work, whether that work was music, video, or anything else, it was clear that the company’s technology could indeed be used for good.
Now BitTorrent (the company, not the protocol) is ready to take the Bundle platform even further, and it’s starting by renaming the platform BitTorrent Now and adding both audio and video streaming in addition to the downloads the service already offered. The platform is now available in more places thanks to new apps and, perhaps most interesting, ad-supported streaming in the vein of Spotify and other services is now supported in addition to paid downloads.
BitTorrent Now will also be much more widely available than the Bundle platform thanks to the addition of mobile apps. In addition to being accessible via the web, BitTorrent Now apps are now available for iOS, Apple TV, and Android. No apps for other smart TV platforms like Roku or Amazon Fire TV have been announced so far. The Android app will be available today, with iOS and Apple TV following shortly.
As part of the platform refresh, a number of artists are releasing new content via BitTorrent Now starting today. Rapper and digital artist Yung Jake, Nashville folk singer Caleb Groh, and Brooklyn-based alternative band Caveman are among those releasing new music, while a number of new series including documentary web series We Are San Marino and Back on Track are premiering today as well. If none of those names sound familiar, that’s sort of the point: the goal is to help users find new and exciting music, films, and other media
The Bundle platform first kicked off what BitTorrent refers to as paygates in 2014 with Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. The album, sold as a $6 downloadable Bundle, may have made Yorke over $20 million in a year. Even so, streaming — especially free streaming — is more popular than ever, so the addition of ad-supported free streaming was almost a necessity.
BitTorrent claims that the Bundle platform was created “to give artists options. Not rules.” As part of continuing that ideal, BitTorrent Now aims to give filmmakers, musicians, and other artists more data about their fans, and to help fans know more about their favorite artists, with the ability to follow specific artists in a manner similar to platforms like Spotify.
BitTorrent Now is far from the only way BitTorrent is aiming to make content easier to share. Last month the company unveiled its BitTorrent Live streaming-video platform, while earlier this week a job listing pointed toward the company preparing its own live news channel for the platform.
Updated on 06-23-2016 by Kristofer Wouk: Edited to clarify that video streaming is also available