BitTorrent TV: Is this BitTorrent’s big push into mobile live streaming?

live sign

BitTorrent Inc. is looking to revive its live streaming efforts with a new product name and new staff, if job offers posted earlier this month are any indication. The company shut down its previous live streaming test, dubbed BitTorrent Live, in February, and said at the time that it would shift its focus to mobile live streaming. Now, it looks like it may rebrand these efforts as BitTorrent TV.

This is from a job listing for a senior product manager that was published two weeks ago:

“This position is for the PM leader of the new BitTorrent TV product, among BitTorrent’s new initiatives that leverages the power of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol. This product aims to introduce to the world a scalable, inexpensive live streaming technology.”

Another job listing, posted at about the same time, includes the following:

“We are looking for an advanced C++ engineer who will help develop a revolutionary new product that will bring peer-to-peer streaming to video broadcasting. You’ll have a chance to work directly with our founder, Bram Cohen, on this new type of peer-to-peer technology. You will be pushing the processing and networking limits of (…) hardware on mobile/embedded platforms.”

Cohen’s work on live streaming has been a long time coming. Cohen, who invented the original BitTorrent protocol and now serves as BitTorrent Inc’s Chief Scientist, started to develop a new P2P-powered live streaming protocol that was focused on low-latency video transmission in 2008. In late 2011, BitTorrent began to test the technology by streaming live music sessions out of a studio it built in its own office.

However, the problem with this approach was that it relied on a browser plug-in, which was too much of a hurdle for many users. In an email to testers, Cohen wrote in February:

“After invaluable experience in real deployments, we found that requiring a browser plug-in is daunting to our users. Because of this, we are refocusing the product on mobile platforms… ”

BitTorrent’s Chief Marketing Officer Matt Mason announced separately in February that the company would introduce “a new mobile streaming application” in alpha stage later this year. All signs now point to this being BitTorrent TV. It’s still unclear what the app is actually going to offer, and a spokesperson quizzed about BitTorrent TV told me Monday that it is still “in an exploratory stage.”

However, the job offers make it sound like BitTorrent Inc. is quite serious about finally turning Bram Cohen’s live streaming work into a product. The job offer of the Product Manager for BitTorrent TV, who is going to be in charge of releasing the product, stated that the job will be “critically important to the company.”

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