BitTorrent Live: streaming video that gets easier to serve as more people watch it

Streaming video is one of the holy grails of torrent-style distribution systems, where everyone who requests a file from a server is directed to other downloaders who have already received pieces. This is a highly scalable architecture, since it means that the more people trying to download at once, the faster everyone's download becomes. But because the pieces arrive out of sequence, you have to wait until the file has been completely transferred before you can use it.

Now, BitTorrent has introduced a new "Live" service that is designed to allow for ready streaming of videos using the same underlying principle. This has enormous potential for disruption, as it lowers the barriers to entry for running your own YouTube-style service by several orders of magnitude. It's still a bit techy and hard-to-use, but that's only to be expected this early into the release cycle.

One of the goals of BitTorrent Live is to make it possible for the public to send video to thousands of people, all over the world. From dissidents reporting on uprisings to soccer moms who want to send video of a game to family and friends, everyone is included.

The main upside compared to centralized live streaming services is that BitTorrent Live won't shut down or be interrupted when the audience becomes 'too large'.

"Current offerings fail with large audiences but with BitTorrent Live every viewer that joins a swarm extends its reach by sharing pieces of the video to other viewers. It becomes more robust with larger audiences and there are no costs associated with the addition of users," Knoll told us.

"We're aiming for this to be a democratization of streaming technology," he adds.

Viewing live streams requires people to install the BitTorrent Live app, which is used to share video with others who are watching. The install process is pretty straightforward and the streams we were able to check out worked fine.

BitTorrent Premieres New Live Streaming Platform