P2P is where it’s at for online video these days. Not a week goes by without an announcement of a new P2P platform or distribution deal. It’s easy to see why folks are excited about this: distributed data delivery can save you a lot of money, plus it’s technology that millions of people already use to get their Harry Potter.
Independent content producers are unfortunately still left in the dark when it comes to many of the new, Hollywood-approved P2P platforms. Case in point: There’s no upload button in Joost. There are, however, quite a few services out there that help you to distribute your content without contract negotiations and DRM schemes. Here are ten sites to get you started:
Vuze.com. The makers of the popular BitTorrent client Azureus offer a free torrent hosting solution, complete with a good-looking directory and web space for the initial seed (the copy of your film that gets the P2P pyramid started). HD content is welcome, and long-tail Ebay-like monetization schemes are in the works for future updates.
BitTorrent.com. The inventors of the BitTorrent protocol launched a commercial website earlier this year. The site is dominated by DRM-laden Hollywood movies and TV shows, but bedroom producers are also invited to sign up and distribute their own content for free. Seed hosting of user-generated content will be available later this year.
Broadcast Machine is a Torrent tracker solution for folks who want to keep complete control over their distribution platform from the same folks who make Miro. Works with any web space that supports PHP. Some web hosters don’t like trackers on their shared servers though, so you should take a look at your terms of aervice first.
Limewire.com is one of the pioneers the file sharing world, and it’s still one of the most popular P2P programs. Limewire and similar Gnutella clients feature a P2P linking scheme called “Magnet Links“ that is somewhat similar to a torrent file. You’ll find a good, yet somewhat technical description on how to make your own Magnet Links here. Hint: It’s always a good idea to combine magnet links with a web-hosted copy of your files.
Red Swoosh. The Akamai-owned P2P company allows content owners to distribute their video downloads for free. P2P-ifying content only takes a few seconds, but users have to install the Red Swoosh client in order to access your files.
Amazon S3 has made headlines with very competitive hosting deals. A little-known secret of the service is that any file hosted on an S3 server can be accessed as a BitTorrent download. Just upload your videos to S3, let the service generate some torrent files and you’re all set.
Veoh combines a Youtube-like video portal with a P2P player that is available for Windows PCs and Macs. Videos are streamable on the website, but the player is necessary for downloading and playback of better-quality versions.
Pando just started its own, really cheap P2P-based CDN. Don’t want to spend anything? You can also use Pando to distribute files of up to one gigabyte for free.
Selfcast from RawFlow offers live P2P streaming. Think Ustream with a proprietary P2P technology. Requires Windows and Windows Media Player 10 to work.
Coral CDN. Granted, this isn’t a true P2P service, but rather an experimental, open source, and non-profit CDN. Coral distributes data through 260 cache servers, most of which are owned by universities around the globe. Coralizing your content is easy: Just add a prefix to your URL and you’re ready to go.