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.