Previously synonymous with Internet piracy, it’s looking like BitTorrent – the peer-to-peer file distribution platform – could soon be seen as a legitimate channel for the big Hollywood players to get content to their viewers across the globe.
A deal struck with practically every major film studio and network means that movies and shows from 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount and many more could soon be downloaded using the technology. Some studios are even planning on making certain titles available on the service before cinema and DVD release dates.
BitTorrent was designed and created in 2001 to distribute large amounts of data over the Internet while avoiding costly bandwidth charges. Nowadays, five years on, BitTorrent traffic accounts for as much as 40% of all Internet traffic worldwide.
This deal marks an interesting attack on the war against film and tv piracy, a problem for the studios that BitTorrent, as a technology, has helped fuel. Some say that it is unfair to judge a protocol on the actions of its users however. The technology has been used successfully (and legally) as a distribution method for years; Internet-only shows like Pure Pwnage and the UK’s own Consolevania simply wouldn’t have been seen by anyone without it.
Most film content will be available either on a download-to-own (DtO) basis or on a rental video-on-demand (VoD) basis. Television shows are only planned to be available on DtO. No prices have yet been confirmed.
It remains to be seen whether this new avenue will be adopted by movie lovers and download junkies alike, but, in concept, this blogger can’t fault it. Watch out for the launch of the online marketplace in February 2007.