For years the BitTorrent protocol has been blamed for encouraging the spread of pirated television shows, full length movies, and popular music albums. But it seems there may be a bigger picture than that.
In a move completely away from the normal actions and mindset of traditional programme makers, Norwegian broadcasters NRK have made one of their most popular shows available to download for free on BitTorrent.
Nordkalotten 365 is the show in question, and while not known outside of Norway, it proved very popular when shown on traditional television, grabbing 900,000 viewers from a population of just 4.6 million and nabbing almost 50% of the market share.
Available On BitTorrent Clients
The first episode of the series is now available to download through any of the multitude of BitTorrent clients out there, although the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation are recommending the free and open source Miro player for those interested in downloading the series on to their PC
Further episodes of the series, in which hiker Lars Monsen travels alone through the north of Scandinavia for a whole year, will be made available once they have been encoded in to MPEG4.
A Worthy Experiment
So why have NRK chosen to do this? And all without DRM? They are calling it an experiment, one designed to get their content out there on to the Internet, and the potential to gain a much larger audience.
It also makes the content available in a very high quality, without the company having to invest in large servers and very expensive bandwidth capabilities.
After the first day, the torrent file has been downloaded over 8000 times, which for a programme in Norwegian, designed to be watched by Norwegian speaking people, is a phenomenal figure.
According to NRK’s own English version of the announcement, the response from the audience has been very appreciative, and positive, with over a hundred (and rising) comments received so far.
The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation are promising that this experiment won’t be a one off, instead, more content will be made available through BitTorrent, making full use of the technology available to them.
Will American Broadcasters Follow Suit?
This is a very encouraging move, with a broadcaster realising the potential of BitTorrent to get their content out there cheaply and more easily, and build a bigger audience as a result.
American networks are definitely warming to the idea of utilising new technologies, and making the Internet a venue for their products, but the use of DRM and limitations on services such as Joost and Hulu are still stopping it from becoming the undisputed delivery medium of the future.
Maybe some brave soul will follow NRK’s example, and use the power of BitTorrent to beat the pirates at their own game.
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