Last year Norway’s public broadcaster, NRK, filmed a stunning seven-hour train ride between Bergen and Oslo, shot entirely in high-definition video. Over one million Norwegians watched the film on television. But NRK faced a challenge in reaching a larger audience. How could it distribute the hard-drive-busting 246 gigabytes of raw footage to a global audience without bringing its servers to a grinding halt? The broadcaster made a somewhat surprising choice: it turned to BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer (P2P) internet service best known as a means of sharing pirated movies and music.
Some at NRK worried that using a system associated with piracy would generate negative publicity. But BitTorrent itself is value neutral. It is a uniquely efficient distribution method that lets broadcasters “seed” the internet with one or two copies of their massive media files.
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