BitTorrent On TV: Piracy Issues Make For Complicated Marketing
Competition for space on the TV screen seems to be where the real battle is.
No, we are not talking about NBC having too many new comedies for too few time slots, nor about Fox having promising reality shows but unable to wedge out another weekly episode of "X Factor" or "American Idol" next January.
At issue are apps like Netflix and Hulu that are increasingly finding their way onto connected TVs via deals with Sony, Samsung, LG, and others.
This week BitTorrent, the file-sharing company with a controversial history, has joined the hunt. BitTorrent says it has made deals with some 20 TV manufacturers.
Problem is, those deals include some 2 million legal TV and movie titles, as well as "illegal" content, according to Multichannel News' Todd Spangler. How could the company do this? Though BitTorrent is pushing its legal downloading video efforts, some of the vestiges of its questionable past remain, Spangler notes. As a file-sharing platform, BitTorrent makes the point that "liabillty for illegal activities rests with users," writes Spangler.
But BitTorrent’s biggest worry comes from an ever-increasing crowded traditional-looking, but connected TV screen filled with subscription and other video-on-demand alternatives like Netflix and Hulu. BitTorrent executives believe that is its real competition.
That may be some time coming in the U.S., since many of BitTorrent’s deals are in Asia and Europe, say company executives.
Eventually, the real work comes in convincing consumers to use BitTorrent, especially when it is competing with more established players. How does it market itself in a world where piracy of TV, movie, and other entertainment content is still a major concern?
Consumers are already familiar with a growing number of apps on smartphones and tablets. Having apps pop up on a TV screen will make for an easier transition. But new TV/video apps may need to come with clear warnings should some of the content be illegal for consumers to use.