For anyone who thinks that full-length movies on the Web are for downloading only should check out the Watch Now section on BitTorrent (you will need Flash Player 9 installed). Launched quietly on December 5 using its BitTorrent DNA streaming technology, Watch Now offers a few hundred full-length movies and TV shows that you can watch in full-screen that start a few seconds after clicking play. The quality varies based on the original video, but check out The Ring (original Japanese version) to see what is possible. It is not HD. But it is very watchable.
A clickable pop-up toast ad for Take TV appears at the beginning. The company is experimenting with the frequency of the ads. One pops up between every 5 and 10 minutes. The controls are limited. There is pause/play, restart, volume, and full-screen. No fast-forward or rewind. [Update: I stand corrected. There is a tiny, hard-to-find fast-forward/rewind button that pops up when you hover the mouse over the progress bar].
The technology works. Unfortunately, the pickings are slim. Other than The Ring, there is not much worth watching. They do have Fight Club, but it’s the Bollywood version. (BitTorrent’s such a tease). The TV shows are even more obscure. Wooden Clogs anyone? Deep South Wrestling? I didn’t think so. You are better off sticking to BitTorrent downloads for now.
The Watch Now section is really meant to be a showcase for BitTorrent’s DNA technology. “This is a demonstration for us at this point,” says BitTorrent President Ashwin Navin. He is convinced that ad-supported peer-to-peer streaming is the how video will be delivered in the near future across the Web. ABC or Warner Brothers, for instance, could use it to stream long-form videos from their own sites. (NBC is planning on using P2P software from competitor Pando Networks to stream its video). Navin predicts:
The browser-based video environment is going to get a whole lot better. It makes a closed-off client experience a lot less appealing to the consumer. All of our customers are embracing the browser to deliver videos.