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The BitTorrent Entertainment Network
BitTorrent: 2 Legit 2 Quit with 5,000 titles for just $3-4 each

BitTorrent today announced the launch of the BitTorrent Entertainment Network, featuring a comprehensive library of downloadable digital entertainment content from 20th Century Fox, Lions Gate, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and, the latest studio on the bandwagon, MGM. The BitTorrent community can rent movies, purchase television shows and music videos, and even publish and share their own content to be displayed alongside titles from the world’s largest studios.

 

“BitTorrent has the infrastructure, technology and established user base to significantly move the needle on digital distribution with quick, easy and affordable delivery,” said Thomas Lesinski, President, Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment. “The final piece of the puzzle is a wide array of content and Paramount is very pleased to be providing a vast selection of filmed entertainment to the site.”

 

At launch, the BitTorrent Entertainment Network will feature over 5,000 titles of movies, TV shows, PC games and music content. Consumers will be able to enjoy both new releases and catalog movie titles such as “Superman Returns,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “World Trade Center,” and “Napoleon Dynamite.” TV programming will include hits such as “24,” “Prison Break,” and “South Park.”

 

At this time, the majority of content is available only in standard definition. BitTorrent confirmed that about 40 hours of its content is encoded for high definition, and plans to increase that count in the near future.

 

Despite the buzz and support from major Hollywood studios, BitTorrent President and Co-founder Ashwin Navin said that the new network can also be utilized as a distribution platform for independent content creators. “We’re leveling the playing field for independent artists who have been turned away by publishers who are traditionally bound by scarce distribution alternatives and limited shelf space. Our entertainment network is a true marketplace that embraces and welcomes contribution from the independents, allowing them to reach a vast user base with their high-quality creative expression,” said Navin.

 

The site offers content for free, for rent and for purchase. Movie rentals are $3.99 and $2.99 for new release and catalog titles, respectively. TV shows and music videos are download-to-own at $1.99 each.

 

“We're really hammering the studios to say, 'Go easy on this audience.' We need to give them a price that feels like a good value relative to what they were getting for free,” said Navin. “The last thing we could afford to do was launch another sterile retail site.”


The video will be protected using Microsoft's Windows Media DRM and will only be available for playback on Windows-based machines -- Mac and Linux users need not apply. The files are also limited to a single PC so don't plan on trying to share your downloads with your friends. A wide variety of entertainment content, however, will be offered for free and without digital rights management (DRM) and designed to be distributed across all platforms.


The launch of the network today is the latest in a string of BitTorrent deals with major media companies. BitTorrent gained legitimacy mid-last year when it first signed Warner Bros. and Image Entertainment. The company then made great strides when it announced it had secured deals with Fox, Lions Gate, Paramount, MTV and others, along with an additional $20 million in funding. BitTorrent joins an expanding group of players in the market including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Wal-Mart.



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By MarcLeFou on 2/26/2007 1:42:35 PM , Rating: 3
I think this is a step in the right direction.

This is actually the first move by movie studios and the like I've seen that aims to offer products online at decent prices. While the rental fees seem a bit high, a TV show for 1,99 is actually a pretty good deal. Of course it depends on the catalog available but this might be the start of a new age for movie and tv show distribution.




RE: .
By Ralph The Magician on 2/26/2007 2:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's because there's a hidden cost that you aren't taking into consideration.

The reason BitTorrent can offer things at lower prices is because they don't have to pay for as much bandwidth. If this kind of thing actually works, all that's going to happen is the cost is going to be shifted to the consumer in the form of higher costs for bandwidth from your ISP. If everyone starts downloading tons of stuff from BT, they are just going to exceed their bandwidth quotas and either get their service turned off or have to pay up for more bandwidth.

In the case of say, Comcast, once you start to exceed 25GB upload or 200GB total bandwidth they will either cut you off or force you to upgrade from your $60/month plan to their $160/month business plan.


RE: .
By MarcLeFou on 2/26/2007 2:50:32 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously there is the hidden cost of bandwith. But bandwith is by no means cheap for the provider either so I think it's a fair deal. They have production costs to take into account for the IP so there is some cost associated with the original show (or song, or movie) and they're there to make a profit and I agree with that as long as its reasonnable. I personally think this is a fair ammount given the compromise (for tv shows again, rentals are too pricey according to me because of the bandwith issue and the on-demand factor which isn't there).

Obviously this is not for the uninformed but I just stop my downloads until the next month if I'm near quota. And obviously I prioritize what I want first if I think I'll have an issue with my quotas for the month.

And I obviously don't know about Comcast because I'm in the Montreal area but for about 70$ a month, I can get an unlimited bandwith plan with videotron (my ISP). And since I also manage the business plan at work, it's also about 70$ a month with unlimited bandwith (All in CDN currency so approximately 60$ USD a month).


RE: .
By FITCamaro on 2/26/2007 6:45:54 PM , Rating: 2
I download a good amount and I don't think I've ever come close to hitting 200GB worth bandwidth in a single month. I mean in college me and a roomie had about 50GB in the span of 2 weeks but thats still far shy of 200GB. As far as a 20GB upload limit, you just limit your upload speed.


RE: .
By umerok on 2/26/2007 2:13:39 PM , Rating: 2
yep. good price on tv shows as well as independent, DRM-free content. this could work out well.

no love for macs and linux though. they probably wouldn't want the DRM anyways.


RE: .
By sprockkets on 2/26/2007 2:52:16 PM , Rating: 1
well, neither should you but that's besides the point :)

the thing that is to note, is how it is downloaded. Yeah, btorrent protocol obviously, but with what client, and what is the dn/up share requirements?


RE: .
By TheDuke84 on 2/26/2007 3:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a good price because they shift the cost to you by forcing you to get a higher plan with more bandwidth or uncapped.

I just read something 2-3 days ago something about this or the same line(first post):

"Blu-ray/HD-DVD vs downloading or streaming movies?"
http://stevesblogen.i2mfan.com/
Check the going "medialess" bit.

Plus, the HD will mean more bandwidth and bigger files. I think the price is too high but they don't say if $1.99 is for a show in HD or SD. If it's HD, it's ok for me. It would be a step in the right direction if they can be more competitive price wise.

Is it a web player type service or you download and watch?


not cheap enough
By Moishe on 2/26/2007 2:52:34 PM , Rating: 5
This is not a good deal.
They're pricing the movie rentals competitively with movie rental stores like Blockbuster. The problem with this is that Blockbuster has inherent retail costs (for each store) and Bittorrent.com has one online store and only a fraction of the employees. PLUS, you're limited to one computer, whereas with a DVD rental, you can do whatever you like. So downloadable movie rentals should be at least 1/2 the cost.

Netflix ends up being cheaper and IMO more convenient IMO than this service because there are priorities that I place on services. It's more important for me to be able to play a DVD in all my player(s) than it is to have instant access to the DVD.

TV Shows @ $1.99 are a rip off. If you consider the hours of TV you watch and then consider paying $2 for each hour, you'd be forking over a pile of money every week to convert to purely streaming TV. I pay $7/mth to watch TV. With this pricing plan I'd pay at least $40/mth. What do I gain? no commercials? That's not enough of a benefit for me.

Like it or not, we've lived our whole lives with "free" (ad-driven) TV. They're trying to switch us to a pay-per-show model which will cost a lot more and I sure as heck won't buy it. Best case scenario would be to have online media providers to whom you can pay a monthly fee and get unlimited DL media.




RE: not cheap enough
By OlderThanSin on 2/26/2007 3:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
Two things are possible. First, the downloadable program will be low-res ... making it unworthy of the price charged for the download. Secondly, if programming is high-resolution and allows the user to display the program "full-screen," then all a person has to do to copy the film and burn it to a DVD is to have a video card allowing for output of the signal to a TV (as opposed to a monitor). Plug that output signal into a VCR or DVR and bingo - DRM defeated.

FWIW, I've already used this method to acquire a film from CinemaNow. In fact, at the time, CinemaNow even gave instructions on their website to make this method possible. The problem? The film was presented in a low-res format ... which is what I suspect will happen here. I could be wrong. But, the movie I acquired from CinemaNow also constituted my last "rental" from CinemaNow.


RE: not cheap enough
By Moishe on 2/26/2007 3:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
The low-res option is likely what will happen for TV. They do claim to have some HD content.
HD content will need component output or HDMI and I doubt that WMP 10 will let you output streamed content to a port like that.
I have a large HT setup with a media PC that I could use for this, but still, it's not as convenient, and most people don't have the setup to watch this content on their main TV display.


RE: not cheap enough
By slacker57 on 2/26/2007 6:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Plug that output signal into a VCR or DVR and bingo - DRM defeated.


What kind of sense does that make? If I have a DVR, I can just have it record my TV programming for free without having to do all that extra work.


RE: not cheap enough
By OlderThanSin on 2/27/2007 12:58:03 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly ... it makes NO sense. The CinemaNow capture I was referring to was the film, "The Dark At The Top of the Stairs," which has NEVER been released on home video. And, it only rarely airs on the TMC channel (which I don't get on my cable scenario). The capture was not the best. Still, it was watchable (and only cost $1.99). I mentioned it only to suggest that DRM is not invincible. And, if this classic Oscar-winning film isn't available on SD video, the likelihood of it being made available on HD video is very very small.

FWIW, though it took me about a year after that CinemaNow capture, a local friend with TMC on his cable was watching for the film ... and it fortunately made an appearance. He captured it on SVHS tape which I captured to DVD. The widescreen version was VERY watchable.


Color me unimpressed
By on 2/26/2007 2:18:48 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Movie rentals are $3.99 and $2.99 for new release and catalog titles, respectively.


Sorry, but this seems like a scheme to take money while forcing users to provide and share their own bandwidth so the content cartel can avoid online distribution costs. I sure would not keep someone else's commercial "bittorrent" stream available to leach off my machine and my 'net bandwidth. And those rates are already higher than my local video shop for "rentals".

Then it is locked to one PC. Useless to stream to your Tivo (via tivoserver or Tivo.NET) nor something like an AppleTV unit, which would use an actual TV. No thanks.




RE: Color me unimpressed
By TheDoc9 on 2/26/2007 5:36:20 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, I especially liked the statement of how they kept prices low for the community that's already getting it for free. The downloads have cripling drm so you have to be connected to the net to view, and they will gaurunteed be low rez. I love it, modern capitalism is great.


RE: Color me unimpressed
By xphile on 2/26/2007 7:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well stated, pretty much exactly what I wanted to say myself. I will add though that in my opinion this whole scenario will only work under three scenarios - none of which have been presented.

1) The downloads are free, with the Studios making their money on a share of the huge advertising revenue split with Bit Torrent.

2) The downloads are paid for by the user, but there is no drm and the user can do whatever they wish with them, or at least to the point of making at least one dvd copy for use anywhere else.

3) The end user is given credit for every "block" of paid for content they shift on to someone else. Thus cutting my cost to download my next file if I hold my prev files and help the next one in the queue.

Tv and movie files are not audio - they are big, even SD is far bigger than audio. They are using an audio strategy AND taking advantage of the free bandwidth and expecting the user to jump at it and pay. It wont happen - not unless they start to give back as in the above examples.


Uploaders and BT client
By kyleb2112 on 2/26/2007 4:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
BT sites with decent DL rates always seem to be dependent on a very few power uploaders who are motivated by status in the community. It's hard to imagine these same guys opening they're pipes the same way to make a buck for a company and for DRM content. Maybe if they monitor ratio and give credit towards movies for upstream bandwidth.

They also need a noob-friendly, browser-based BT client that makes downloading transparent and idiot-proof. A lot of heavy users of Kazaa, emule, etc still don't "get" bit torrent with it's separate torrent + client structure. Too many people will just come looking for last night's American Idol and even a utorrent install is going to lose 'em.




RE: Uploaders and BT client
By TheDuke84 on 2/26/2007 6:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
Good ideal on the bandwidth credit. I don't have a big pipe but I would be willing to share it more if get something in return.

The trouble with DRM free content is that people might not want to pay if it's available. You just need a paid client to release it in the wild and it's done.

Don't get me wrong, DRM is bad but studios should look at other means. The new guy that blogs about tech(see the link above a few thread before), pointed me to a video "Piracy is good". Since then, I'm a firm believer in that method or at least lower the price by half in the meantime.

http://www.archive.org/details/PiracyIsGood

It's 1 hour but worth it. :D


By UNCjigga on 2/26/2007 5:32:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'll definitely test drive this and see what the quality of the video is. If they can offer 652x352 or better, multichannel AC3 audio and a decent codec (DivX/XviD, VC1, H.264) then sign me up. Otherwise, I'll stick with the quality rips I get free elsewhere.

I think I'm still waiting for the day when someone offers a legit streaming video service that lets me purchase a license and stream the actual video to any device, in any format, anytime I want it. Today I might watch "LOST" on my HTPC at home, tomorrow I might watch it on a friend's IPTV set-top box, and the day after I might watch it on my cellphone. This service would add modern, updated codecs/formats as they become available so my content is never obsolete and I always have the best quality technology allows (for a nominal monthly fee of course).

In other words, I don't want to buy a static video. I just want the license.




By UNCjigga on 2/26/2007 5:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
oops, forgot to add:

I don't want to keep filling up hard drives with downloaded content, and I don't want to be liable for backing up my purchased content. I'll pay to have someone host it on their servers and stream it whenever I need it.

Comcast, Verizon, AT&T...are you listening? You own the network transport, so make it happen. I'll even lobby against Net Neutrality if you do. :)


Prices
By SmokeRngs on 2/27/2007 11:04:47 AM , Rating: 2
I agree that prices are too high. The movies are equivalent to store movie rentals. You are taking your time and bandwidth to download these movies. The cost should be much lower.

Network TV shows are paid for through ad revenue. This is an additional way to make more money. They are not losing money by doing this since the shows were already paid for. This is, as usual, greed getting in the way.

Music videos at $2 a piece? Whoever decided on that price really needs to pass around what they are smoking.

The following are just my opinions as I have no way of finding out how much this distribution model actually costs those involved:

New release movies should be no more than $2. You need to make the price actually attractive. Trying to sell convenience of not having to leave your home doesn't work as well as it used to. There are several ways of getting this convenience so it's a bit more difficult to charge a premium for this. It's the same with catalog movies except they should probably be priced between $1-$1.50.

TV shows should be no more than $1 each. As already stated, they have been bought and paid for through ad revenue. This is nothing more than just a bit of extra money made which is the same with the DVDs of whole seasons.

Music videos are anywhere from 3-5 minutes long on average. The only reason they are made is to get the name and face of the performer out there. It's nothing more than an ad. It may be entertaining, but it's still an ad. I don't think they should be any more than $0.50 each if even that.

I'm not going to bother with the DRM or SD vs HD at this time. DRM has been covered overly well and HD will come eventually.

I think they have the right idea for distribution and it seems they have a good number of content providers on board. However, their pricing scheme is stupid greed and could easily lead to the downfall of the distribution model for the time being. Overall bandwidth use is a concern at this time but I have a feeling bandwidth will keep up. It's not like this service will saturate the internet tomorrow and bring it crashing down.

They have a good thing here. However, if they actually want people to pay for this instead of just grabbing the files somewhere else for free, they need to offer an incentive. Low prices and high quality audio and video are a must. Until that happens, this will be nothing more than mediocre service like the other ones out there.




RE: Prices
By OlderThanSin on 3/1/2007 9:33:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
DRM has been covered overly well and HD will come eventually .

That is the mantra the industry certainly wants us to chant (and believe). But, I'm not so certain. Read this:

http://tinyurl.com/y9nzpo


Redbox
By Alphafox78 on 2/26/2007 3:01:19 PM , Rating: 2
There are these vending machines in my area (western mass) called redbox. you just click the movie you want and it vends you the movie. its only $1 a night, you cant beat that! the blockbuster next door to it acually closed 6 months after this thing went in.




What needs to happen
By smitty3268 on 2/26/2007 7:27:35 PM , Rating: 2
They'll start getting hundreds of dollars from me as soon as they go DRM-free and HD. Until then, they aren't getting a penny.




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