Digital News, Amazon.com, BitTorrent, Digital media, Internet, Netflix, Television, Television industry, youtube — August 15, 2013 16:53 — 0 Comments
BitTorrent bundle promotes crowdsourced TV drama Fly or Die
‘This is television, built for the Internet,” promises technology company, as it encourages fans to ‘creatively shape’ new show
BitTorrent may still be a dirty word for many TV industry execs, when they think about the technology used by popular piracy sites to power millions of unlicensed downloads of shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.
BitTorrent the company, though, is keen to be seen as a friendly, legal marketing and distribution partner for show creators and production companies. Witness its latest partnership with US firm Converge Studios, around the pilot for its new show Fly or Die.
The show – a scripted drama that “documents the inner workings of the music industry” – is a collaboration between Converge and music producers Rock Mafia, complete with cameos from musicians including Gavin DeGraw, Vanessa Hudgens and Jesse McCartney.
BitTorrent is making available a “bundle” of content through its network of 170m monthly active users, offering Fly or Die’s trailer and a music video to anyone who downloads it.
If they then enter their email address, they’ll get more behind-the-scenes videos, but also “an invitation to join the community that will creatively shape the Fly of Die’s future: impacting everything from storyline to distribution”.
It’s the latest BitTorrent bundle in the company’s scheme to team up with creators from various industries. Previous partners have come from the worlds of music (DJ Shadow, Pixies, Alex Day, Public Enemy), TV and film (Epic Meal Time, Pioneer One, L5) and books (Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Chef).
“We were working on a project and wanted to go direct-to-fan. We were looking at different ways to make that work; everything from YouTube, to social media, to celebrity channels,” explains Converge’s chief executive Tim Staples in BitTorrent’s blog post announcing the Fly or Die bundle.
“We came to BitTorrent with a crazy idea – a new way to get content developed and distributed. For us, it was an opportunity to take a great show and test it; to develop iteratively, together with our audience.”
The BitTorrent bundle scheme is currently in “alpha” with carefully-chosen partners, although the company is planning a wider launch later in the year that will enable more creators to make and launch their own bundles through its network.
BitTorrent’s vice president of marketing Matt Mason is keen to stress the creator-friendliness of the BitTorrent community: a network not of pirates, but of collaborators.
“Today’s viewer is as much a contributor as a straight-up content consumer. Reddit shapes plot lines. Twitter is a writers’ room. American Idols are chosen via text. Youtube is our film school,” he writes in the blog post.
“Is series development something that should be open-sourced? What if you opened up the pilot process to the people of the Internet? What if a TV series started acting like a startup?”
It’s fair to say many rightsholders – broadcasters, music labels and film studios for example – still struggle to separate BitTorrent (the company) from BitTorrent (the technology).
That’s why most of the participants on the alpha program have been creators who own the rights to the works being distributed, and are thus free to experiment. For its part, BitTorrent has been sharing stats to show its potential distribution scale.
Ferriss’ BitTorrent bundle including the first chapter of his ebook was downloaded more than 2m times, with more than 880,000 people clicking through to its page on retailer Amazon.
Alex Day’s bundle – a mix of older tracks and remixable stems to promote his latest album – has been downloaded nearly 2.8m times, with 163,000 people clicking through to his iTunes page, and 52,000 visiting his website.
For Converge, the Fly or Die BitTorrent bundle is at one level just another way to get eyeballs on the trailer and drum up interest in its new show. It’s the email signups and the promise of true participation – if followed through – that makes the partnership interesting.
“This is television, built for the Internet,” claims Mason. At a time when YouTube is sinking $300m into its Original Content initiative, and Netflix and Amazon are both commissioning new scripted dramas, there are opportunities opening up for producers on this front.
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