BitTorrent has been trying to shake its image as a pirated movie purveyor for years and use its peer-to-peer powers for good, and now you can enjoy its free, legal, and legitimate TV service right on your Android phone.
Called BitTorrent Live, the app isn’t for seeding and sharing, it’s for streaming. Previously available on iOS and streaming TV devices such as Apple TV and FireTV, the video platform offers a wide array of programs ranging from sports to news, tech, and pop culture. The shows it offers aren’t exactly mainstream, but you will find a TWiT channel dedicated to the popular This Week in Tech podcast network, as well as a stream of NASA TV. Additionally, the service features shows dedicated to wealth, extreme sports, and electronic dance music.
The app requires a free login to begin watching, and the service utilizes BitTorrent’s patented peer-to-peer live streaming protocol to eliminate latency issues. As the company explains in a blog post, “BitTorrent Live allows for large audiences to view live video with sub 10-second latency and without the need for an expensive CDN or pre-provisioning. With BitTorrent Live, every viewer is also a broadcaster. This allows the video stream to remain strong and for the broadcast to be as scalable as traditional Over-the-Air TV.”
In our short testing, the bare-bones app seemed to live up to its claims, with streams starting immediately upon tapping a channel. Everything in the app is currently available for free, but BitTorrent has said that “subscription-based, ad-supported, and Pay-Per-View premium tiers” will follow. You can download
it in the Play Store.
The story behind the story: While the programming options it offers might not be must-see TV, BitTorrent Live is certainly an interesting application of the peer-to-peer protocol. We’ve already seen what it can do for multi-gigabyte file download
s, but applying the tech to live streaming could change the way we consume video online. Back in 2009, BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen said that his ultimate goal was to “kill off television” with his instant streaming service, and while that dream might still be a long way off, the technology here is certainly impressive. With some premium partners and a paid tier, BitTorrent Live could one day become the streaming service standard.