BitTorrent’s New Service To Launch Tomorrow; Service Rife With Restrictions

There are so many ironies in this that I feel bad for Cohen and his team: BitTorrent, the commercial company born out of the P2P software by the same name, is launching its service tomorrow, called BitTorrent Entertainment Network (BET)…it will launch with 3,000 new and classic movies and thousands more TV shows, as well as a thousand PC games and music videos each, reports NYT.
Studios on the service: Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount and Warner Brothers, all previously announced and a new partner: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which will take part by making 100 films available on the site from its 4,000-movie library.
And because of studios’ own reluctance to completely let go on DRM and piracy fears, it will be just another video download service, only running on the efficiencies of BitTorrent system:
— Will sell digital copies of TV shows for $1.99 an episode, but will only rent movies. Once the films are on the PC, they expire within 30 days of their purchase or 24 hours after the buyer begins to watch them.
— New releases like “Superman Returns” cost $3.99, while classics like “Reservoir Dogs” cost $2.99. The studio’s content plays in Microsoft’s WMP 11…and you’re only tied to one PC.
— The company says it had secured the right to permit users to buy outright digital copies of films, but the studios wanted to charge prices that would be too high for most consumers. My thought: give them the choice. Why not let users decide whether they want to pay the high price?
– At launch, BitTorrent only has HD content from cable TV service Voom, not the studios.
Ultimately, BitTorrent wants to use its media store to demonstrate the underlying technology, and wants to sell other media stores and to the studios themselves, says the NYT story.
Variety: It pushed back the launch an extra week when it was able to sign MGM at the last minute. Though it hoped to have all the major studios on board, BitTorrent eventually decided to enter the increasingly crowded market before it became too late. BitTorrent will start offering free ad-supported TV shows in the near future, it says. Also, the company has international rights for most content and plans to hit foreign markets soon.
Also, separately, the NYT story says the company has raised about $30 million total in funding–the two rounds publicly known total up to $28.75 million–and an SEC filing earlier this month may mean it has raised some more money.