BitTorrent is ready to start monetizing its new multimedia format, what is known as a ‘Bundle’ — which takes the form of a torrent file that promotes fan interaction within the content as opposed to using third-party tools.
Back in May 2013, BitTorrent launched the Bundle, designed to hold anything and everything an artist makes: from video, to art, to music, in one simple download. Last month it announced that over 100 million Bundles had been delivered since then. BitTorrent had been helping a small group of artists, makers, labels, and studios build their own BitTorrent Bundle campaigns, but subsequently it launched a tool for them to do it themselves, aiming to simplify direct-to-fan distribution by automating the process of creating a media torrent.
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Now, the company is taking a step forward with Bundles, as it seeks to transform this new format into a revenue source. BitTorrent has just announced that it will be building paywalls into Bundles this summer (first reported by the New York Times), which would allow fans to purchase projects directly from artists and give publishers another option to fund their work. The fee will be charged by the artist, not BitTorrent, though the site will take a cut.
Christian Averill, director of communications at BitTorrent, tells TNW that it will be up to the publisher to decide the value of their Bundle.
“They can determine whether they wish to request an email, a flat fee, etc. We will not impose the business model. The creator and publisher will have the freedom to determine what their content will be worth,” he said.
The paywall model will be tested this fall with a crowdfunding project in the form of a science fiction series called “Children of the Machine,” produced by Rapid Eye Studios. The pilot episode will be launched with BitTorrent Bundle, and if users like the show, they can pay up for the entire series in advance via the Bundle paygates. The producer, Marco Weber, said the studio is aiming for 250,000 users to chip in $9.95 each before they will go on to bring the next eight episodes to life.
Weber says that this essentially gives audiences a greater say: “They get to make the decisions that executives at entertainment conglomerates usually make for them. If fans are willing to accept that deal, and become stakeholders in our production, then I’m sure that ‘Children of the Machine’ will only be the first of many shows to follow this model.”
BitTorrent earlier revealed that a typical Bundle now drives over 554,000 impressions, 167,000 downloads, and more than 16,000 streams in just 24 hours. Riding on this momentum and hoping to tap on these users to continue their support for new artist projects is probably a smart move on BitTorrent’s part — now “Children of the Machine” just needs to prove that the model works.