BitTorrent Launches Streaming News Network at Republican Convention

Move Is Part of Larger Effort to Refocus Business on Becoming Video Content Company

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Credit: Courtesy of BitTorrent

Last week, BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file-sharing program announced it was hiring a news director, former CNN and Vice producer Harrison Bohrman, to lead the upcoming "live-streaming TV news network," confirming rumors that it was looking to build a team of journalists after it had posted job listings seeking them out.

Now BitTorrent is announcing that it will launch that new enterprise July 18 at the Republican National Convention, a move, it said, to bring "an independent voice" to the election season, starting with the conventions.

"BitTorrent News is launching to offer a fresh and independent voice to news reporting. We have an amazing opportunity to leverage our proprietary live video streaming technology in a way that delivers breaking news in real time," said Christian Averill, VP-marketing at Bit Torrent. "The upcoming national conventions will be amongst the biggest news items of the year and we intend to bring a refreshing perspective to a tech forward audience."

BitTorrent is best known for being a peer-to-peer file-sharing system, one that that people often associate with piracy because of its popularity among visitors to sites such as The Pirate Bay. But the move to launch a news effort is part of a larger play on BitTorrent's part to become a media company specializing in video. BitTorrent in May launched BitTorrent Live, a streaming platform that offered channels like Fightbox, Heroes TV, TWiT and other channels. BitTorrent News will be available on BitTorrent Live, available on Apple TV and OSX, with others coming soon, the company said.

As for why BitTorrent would want to get into the news business, Eric Schwartz, VP-media, said in a blog post: "Television news has been stagnating for some time. It's having trouble appealing to a generation that grew up online. We're building BitTorrent News to solve that problem. We are using superior data and tools and the Silicon Valley ethos of lean startup to build a nimble news organization that will learn quickly from user behavior."

A spokeswoman for the company said that there will be opportunities for advertisers to get involved. "We'll be looking at traditional broadcast models as well as experimenting with new ways for the model to work."

BitTorrent is entering the very crowded spaces of live streaming -- which Facebook has made a priority this year, and as Twitter is increasingly striking deals to live-stream major events -- as well as content creation and distribution, which Netflix and Hulu have long been offering. Other players in the mix include Dish's Sling TV, Verizon's Go90 and many others.

BitTorrent said the format for the conventions will include play-by-play commentary, along with "guest commentary in real time on issues raised and issues omitted. There will be 10-12 hours of live coverage every day during the conventions. Each morning will start with two hours of live programming. Daily coverage will then continue at 2 p.m., with a wrap-up segment for an hour after the final speeches each day."

BitTorrent experimented with news earlier this year during the New Hampshire primary with OTT News, an app that delivered BitTorrent's dispatches from the event. In June, BitTorrent spun off Sync, its enterprise file-sharing product, so that it could focus more on its consumer-facing business.

Earlier in the year BitTorrent changed its leadership, announcing Robert Delamar and Jeremy Johnson as co-CEOs, replacing Erik Klinker "to accelerate our momentum in media and creative distribution," the company said in April.

"We are marrying the internet's principles of open access to information with society's need for unfettered -- and unfiltered -- access to news," said Mr. Johnson in the blog post today. "Not to be too grandiose, but I'm really excited about our News initiative. I think what we're doing is important for the world."

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