Imagine using a P2P file-sharing service to download new episodes of a TV show — a common enough situation, if you look at what people torrent. But this time imagine doing it legally, for a show produced specifically for distribution via torrenting.
This Wednesday, the first episode of Pioneer One debuted as a free and legal download being promoted by what TorrentFreak called “the largest P2P conglomerate ever assembled,” including uTorrent, Limewire, The Pirate Bay and EZTV.
Distributed by VODO, which is powered by BitTorrent, the 35-minute sci-fi pilot revolves around the discovery of an object from space, a lost cosmonaut and the U.S. government’s efforts to contain the situation. The production values are impressive given the low budget, and the scripting, acting and direction are solid. If you enjoyed the slightly talky but eerie Quatermass series, Pioneer One would probably be right up your alley. And to download it, it’s a simple matter of getting the torrent file, using your software of choice to open the torrent, then watching the high-quality .mkv file with any video player (VLC worked great for me).
Pioneer One came about, according to VODO founder Jamie King, after VODO distributed The Lionshare, the previous film by Pioneer One creators Josh Bernhard and Bracey Smith. “I started discussing with Josh his idea for a P2P show,” King said, “And I felt that they deserved our support and that I could get the community behind this. I read the script and it looked good, and I’d been thinking for a while that what was going to succeed in this ‘space’ was a genre series, something low-budget but with tight production values, something that the community could own and criticize and love as it develops. [Pioneer One] fit that bill.”
Using a Kickstarter campaign to solicit the $6,000 budget for the pilot episode (over $7,000 was actually raised), “This production was possible due in no small part to the willingness of talented, professional people working for free,” Bernhard says on the official VODO site. “From actors to composers, they did this because they believed in the project and wanted to see it happen.”
In the episode’s first day and a half online, about 84,000 downloads have occurred, and King says that “The numbers are rising. There’s more and more seeders and leechers joining. I would say we would be delighted to get 250,000 across seven days.”
In addition, King says that since the show’s premiere $1,000 a day has been donated to fund the next six installments. “So I guess they’ll get their budget for the next episodes pretty fast,” King said.
Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): The Quest to Monetize File Sharing