Remember how iTunes popularized podcasts? The same could soon happen to TV torrenting, thanks to a new BitTorrent application called TVTrigger. Windows-only TVTrigger is like an iTunes for your torrent downloads. It sits on your desktop, giving you access to a programming guide with a few thousand TV shows, complete with torrent links to download each one of them.
Sounds legally questionable? It probably is in the U.S., but that doesn’t bother TVTrigger’s Egypt-based makers, who claim that BitTorrent is legal in their country and they don’t have access to Hulu.com.
TVTrigger offers listings and descriptions for around 3,000 TV shows, most of which air in the U.S. Users can browse the shows by air date, alphabet or genre. Each show features a lot of background information including cast and crew and an episode list. There’s an integrated audio player to listen to the show’s theme song, a link to the show’s official web site, and an affiliate link for Amazon.com.
And then there’s the whole BitTorrent side. TVTrigger searches four BitTorrent indexing sites for torrents of a selected episode, and users can start downloading right within TVTrigger. Alternatively, TVTrigger can hand over that torrent link to another BitTorrent client to do the heavy lifting. TVTrigger also relies on external applications to play back the downloaded video files.
One of the more interesting features is that users can auto-download new episodes of their favorite TV shows, which makes it possible to set up TiVo-like season passes for BitTorrent downloads. Features like these are a direct result of programmers’ own downloading experiences, Mohamed Bedda of 8YSeven, which makes TVTrigger, told me. “As TV users, we used to check out a show’s info from one place, see the TV listings from another, check out what new episodes we missed, search for a torrent, and download, all from different sources,” he said.
TVTrigger aims to unite all those things in one application, and it does its job surprisingly well for a newcomer. Granted, Hulu users may still find on-demand streaming to be easier, but that’s a question of perspective — and access. Outside the U.S., people don’t have anything like Hulu at their disposal. Still, the folks at 8YSeven are already thinking about adding streaming sources as well. “We do not limit ourselves to torrents; we just see it’s the easiest and most reliable way now,” Bedda told me.
Of course, downloading TV shows with an application like this isn’t recommended, at least if you want to stay on the right side of U.S. copyright law. But U.S. copyright law isn’t universal, and some of the countries with laxer downloading rules don’t have any other way to legally watch U.S. television online.