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BitTorrent Is Shutting Down Its Live TV Streaming Service (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 4/28/2017 Janko Roettgers
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San Francisco-based BitTorrent Inc. is set to shut down its P2P-powered live TV streaming service BitTorrent Live in the coming weeks, Variety has learned. Most of the 10-person team behind the live streaming service is expected to leave the company by the end of this week.

The closure of Live comes after BitTorrent unsuccessfully tried to raise money to spin out the service into a separate company.

It’s also just the latest twist in a long corporate drama. Last year, two outside investors took control of BitTorrent, spent millions of dollars on an expensive expansion into the media space and promptly got themselves fired.

BitTorrent has since rehired its former COO Rogelio Choy as its new CEO, and is now looking to focus on its core products. As part of that realignment, the company was looking to turn Live into a separate, venture-funded entity, but raising money for it proved challenging.

Closing down Live also puts an end to one of BitTorrent inventor’s Bram Cohen’s most ambitious projects since the release of the original file sharing client. Cohen began working on BitTorrent Live some nine years ago, spending years on perfecting an underlying P2P architecture that allowed live video streaming without costly content delivery infrastructure, and with minimal latency.

BitTorrent Live underwent a few iterations over the years, and eventually settled on a Sling TV-like model, aiming to sell consumers access to live streams from news and sports TV networks as part of smaller bundles while also offering some core channels for free.

The ultimate goal was to build a virtual pay TV operator, and BitTorrent developed a lot of technology associated with running such a service in-house. There’s no word on what will happen to those technical assets, or what the company aims to do with the underlying P2P-based live streaming protocol.

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