38 Comments

Summary:

BitTorrent is all set to launch a legal P2P video download service, BitTorrent Entertainment Network, that will offer television shows for sale and movies for rental from some of the major Hollywood studios. The news has created quite a stir amongst the technorati. Mathew Ingram, a […]

BitTorrent is all set to launch a legal P2P video download service, BitTorrent Entertainment Network, that will offer television shows for sale and movies for rental from some of the major Hollywood studios. The news has created quite a stir amongst the technorati. Mathew Ingram, a man not known to mince words, is convinced that the new service is destined to fail. It is hard to disagree with his assessment, though our reasons are slightly different that his. Here is a short list of challenges we see for BitTorrent’s new store:


Internet Service Providers dislike BitTorrent

Internet Service Providers can limit download speeds, and can block default BitTorrent ports, and force an inferior experience. There are other ways ISPs can mess with the Torrent traffic. Expect broadband providers to ask for their pound of flesh, I mean dollars from BitTorrent and their content partners.

BitTorrent’s not easy, especially for novices

BitTorrent is still pretty tough to use for mainstream, less sophisticated users, and can leave novices pretty confused. Little things can ruin the experience.

Despite the P2P architecture’s elegance, the ability to download and playback the content right away is the top priority amongst non-geeky content customers. Any delays can turn off the customers for good.

Rememer that BitTorrent is a pay-it-forward kind of system: it downloads parts of a file, and then uploads it to others. Any problems in say your router or your firewall prevents you from getting the credits for uploading the file-slices. As a result your download speed gets crammed down. The slow upload speeds of most U.S. broadband connections could prove to be the bottleneck.

They can overcome most of their problems with their own super peer infrastructure, but that takes away much of the infrastructure cost savings. They have a partnership with CacheLogic that can fix these issues, but it is unclear if that infrastructure is in place.

Content on BitTorrent Store ain’t all that

BitTorrent needs to offer content that is far superior either in quality (HD for example) or in variety for users to switch from the click-and-download ease of the iTunes store, or similar such services.

Beyond that the content is shackled by very limiting digital rights management software. DRM, as Ingram rightfully points out, works against the BTL (BitTorrent Legit). BT team knows that, and said so in The New York Times.

Furthermore, downloads require Windows Media Player and works only on Windows machines and is tied to one single PC for now.

Who uses the official BT client?

BitTorrent’s official client has lost out to alternative clients including Azureus and BitComet.

Why pay to play?

How do you convince people to pay for something they are used to downloading for free by using BitTorrent? This is especially hard since BT also offers a torrent search engine on their site, which also comes up with the illegal stuff. Will they start stripping out the legal content from their search service?

The torrent dilemma!

By Om Malik

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

Related stories

  1. [...] writing at GigaOM, is less than optimistic about the new BitTorrent Entertainment Network (not yet live as of this [...]

    Share
  2. And not to mention, for bittorrent to work well, it requires many other users willing to donate their bandwidth through a process called ‘seeding’ so you experience quick downloads.

    People paying for content are not likely to seed the files, making it no different from a simple download which can take days to complete for good quality content.

    Share
  3. [...] sell TV shows, under the soon to be renamed Zudeo client. The blogosphere reacted to this news with skepticism. Hollywood studios are enforcing DRM and pricing schemes that stand little chance against competing [...]

    Share
  4. If I pay to download I don’t have to donate my bandwidth, otherwise is better iTunes

    Share
  5. I think that P2P (be it Bit Torrent or other) could be better accepted for PAID content if it passed on to consumers the REAL cost savings that the content owners and distribution partners actually get. In other words, if it costs $4.99 for a video rental today and the owner gets $1 and the distributor gets $1 profit, but the $2.99 covers distribution cost, then they ought to P2P distributed it for $1.50. $1 for the owner and $0.50 for the distributor (who is clearly doing less in this case anyhow and who has practically no distribution cost). Something like that …

    I believe that consumers will suffer some inconvenience of technology if they can GAIN some convenience of time (kick off the download Thursday night for a Friday night video) AND SHARE IN THE SAVINGS …

    Future generations of technology will begin to HIDE the technology, thus removing some obstacles.

    Share
  6. On “Who uses the official BT client?” the answer is no one. But didnit BT just reach an agreement with uTorrent which is one of the best? And there’s a number of BT add-ons for Firefox in the works.

    Share
  7. [...] the beta will likely improve over time for performance but will ultimately be pinched down (again) until there is a model that ISP’s do not see as a deleterious impact to the [...]

    Share
  8. The whole “give us money but share your bandwidth!” thing is rediculous.

    Share
  9. Addition to Foofy’s comments ..

    Share your bandwidth, give us your money, we will sell our company and make millions!

    Share
  10. [...] GigaOM » 5 reasons BitTorrent Store won’t sell: Only one reason: Windows DRM. After that its all pedantic. I shake my head and wonder why unreasonable restriction of content is supposed to make me excited about a standard protocol’s usage? It’d be like DRM-ing web pages and trying to sell me on the fact that those DRM’ed pages used HTTP. It just doesn’t compute. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post