BitTorrent Adds a Set-Top Partner

BitTorrent’s gradual shift from PCs to TVs, set-tops and other consumer electronics devices took a step forward Wednesday with word that Fortis of South Korea has embedded BitTorrent’s file-sharing technology in a range of new Linux-based boxes that will be sold in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Although some consumers use BitTorrent to obtain content illegally, the integration will likewise enable users to access an expanding library of legal content, as well.

“We are providing access to an enormous amount of…legal content through our ecosystem,” said BitTorrent chief strategy officer Shahi Ghanem. “We realize that the content is critical to making the technology viable.”

In May, BitTorrent formally introduced a new file format, BitTorrent Bundle, that’s designed to attract content owners to its platform and enable them to control how users gain access the material. Using that system, for example, a content owner could offer part of a bundle of content for free in exchange for a “like” on Facebook, or ask users to make a donation or to pay for that content outright.

The BitTorrent Bundle program currently offers exclusive content from partners such as Kaskade, Pixies, Public Enemy, and Counting Crows.

Ghanem said BitTorrent’s CE partners are also looking for the company and its technology to help them distribute 4K video via the Internet. “4K is a real natural fit,” he said.

Fortis marks the fourth announced box maker to integrate BitTorrent’s technology. Others announced BitTorrent set-top partners include BBK, Antik and AirTies. BitTorrent is also integrating its technology in connected TVs. In November, BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker told Multichannel News that the company had inked deals with 20 TV set makers. BBK, which also makes TVs, and Turkey-based Vestel are among those that are announced.

Ghanem noted that BitTorrent is also working with “two very large manufacturers” that are developing TVs for the new buying season that will also embed the company’s technology.

BitTorrent estimates that it has 170 million monthly active users that move about 3 Exabytes of content using the company’s protocol.

According to Sandvine’s latest Global Internet Phenomena Report, BitTorrent represented 9.23% of aggregate peak period application traffic on North American fixed access networks, 17.36% in Europe, and 21.66% in the Asia Pacific region.