Bram Cohen: My goal is to kill off television

Bram Cohen, BitTorrent, at NTVL 2010

BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen demoed his P2P live streaming protocol at the San Francisco MusicTech Summit on Monday, which he said could potentially stream live video to millions of computers with no central infrastructure. Cohen said that the protocol could potentially be used for video conferencing, live streams of video game tournaments or even live sports events. “My goal here is to kill off television,” he joked.

Cohen has worked on P2P live streaming for a number of years, and told us a while back that he completely had to start from scratch because traditional P2P algorithms introduce too much latency for live applications. BitTorrent Inc. hasn’t said how exactly it intends to productize the protocol, but Cohen said on Monday that he is talking to a number of potential partners. BitTorrent has also started to run a number of  field tests on its website in recent months, streaming weekly live music events with the P2P protocol.

The ultimate winners of a P2P-based solution could be consumers, he argued, because it would enable publishers to put much more content online at a fraction of the cost of traditional CDNs. “Most of the video that people consume today is still not on the Internet,” said Cohen, adding that existing protocols aren’t set up to support big live events.

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