Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

May 8th, 2003

BitTorrent getting noticed

It seems that BitTorrent is finally getting some mainstream press, inevitably because of it’s use to download material that’s under copyright. The BBC has an article describing how that latest episodes of US TV shows are being made available for download.

The two take away points from this article seem to be that the “problem” is at this point rather small (not many people doing it), and also hard to disrupt. I’m sure that TV companies will try to shut down sites assisting in the distribution of TV shows in this fashion despite the difficulties of doing so. Other actions that they are less likely to take, but which might also have an impact:

  • Simultaneous world-wide release of shows. Movies are starting to do this now, it’s not that difficult, and reduces demand for copies.
  • Provide torrents of shows with in-line advertising, perhaps at a reduced quality. This provides a way of clawing back some revenue that might be otherwise lost. It also makes it harder to find other versions because everyone will link to your versions.

If downloading TV shows becomes really popular it could even become just another channel of distribution. If it’s easy to find an official version (with adverts) most people are not going to bother hunting down a hard to find version which has had the adverts stripped out. Bandwidth costs can be contained through the use of the peer-to-peer network, although multiple versions would have to be provided so that the advertising is targeted to the correct audience.

I suspect the biggest challenge would be that people can skip through the adverts, which reduces the amount of income derived from them. If they are kept short enough however it might work, it takes time to skip ahead and then backtrack to the point where the advert finishes and the show resumes…

Comments are closed.

Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

Email: colin at