Theta: Decentralized Video Streaming Powered by the Blockchain
Video streaming first took the world by storm at the turn of the century when industryview.com launched its “world’s largest streaming video archive” website to help businesses promote themselves. Around 2002, interest quickly shifted to a single, unified consumer-focused streaming format. The simultaneous widespread adoption of Adobe Flash eventually led to the development of a video streaming format through Flash, which was commonly used in on many popular video hosting sites, such as YouTube. Since that time, YouTube has exploded in popularity and is now defaulting to HTML5 video while also providing live streaming services to its users.
While video streaming is now a staple of everyday life, there are a number of challenges that make it less than efficient for all parties involved. One of the biggest ongoing challenges revolves around the inefficiency and resource-usage tied to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which provide the backbone infrastructure to deliver the video streams to the end viewers. Currently, CDNs rely on what are called Point-of-Presences (POPs), which are data centers located across the globe, to provide users with streaming data. Given that there are a limited number of these POPs, and they are quite unevenly dispersed, the streaming delivery pipeline can often get clogged, leading to less optimal user experience including choppy streams and frequent rebuffering. These issues are becoming ever more significant as more data-intensive streaming formats come onto the scene, including 4K, 8K and VR.
One blockchain project aiming to solve these ongoing issues with video streaming is the Theta Network, which is developing a protocol to incentivize individual users to share redundant computing and bandwidth resources to act as caching nodes for video streams. By doing so, Theta aims to build a system that improves streaming delivery while reducing CDN bandwidth costs, a major drag on video streaming websites. Through this approach, Theta ultimately will make for a lower-cost video streaming system that opens up unique opportunities for both content creators and advertisers.
Interested in The Theta Network? Here’s a quick rundown of the project:
Platform & Development
In short, Theta is disrupting traditional CDNs with a novel architecture that leverages a decentralized set of user-ran computing nodes that work to cache data, enabling a more efficient system of streaming. Theta is initially focused on two major categories of video streaming, live and on-demand.
With live video streaming, content creators publish onto what are called ‘ingest nodes’ that run on computers contributed by the user community. These ingest nodes are responsible for transcoding the video stream to different bitrates and resolutions. From there, the caching nodes pull the video streams and relay the data to the end viewers.
For on-demand streaming, the only difference is that content creators upload the source video file to a storage system for later retrieval. This system of data storage can either be decentralized (IPFS or SWARM) or centralized (i.e., AWS S3). Regardless of streaming method, the Theta Network functions as an ever-evolving system that goes through a bootstrapping process to discover the caching nodes that are physically nearby as they are launched. This works to assure that the p2p stream communication between nodes, as well as viewer end experience, are always the highest quality and lowest latency. Additionally, according to the Theta white paper, this works to allow streaming sites and platforms to offload up to 80% of CDN.
To facilitate this architecture, Theta is currently building out its protocol, which introduces a new blockchain and native token structure. As outlined in the Theta white paper, this protocol works to incentivize major groups functioning within the decentralized system, including caching nodes, content creators, advertisers, and even viewers. Caching nodes earn Theta Tokens for caching and relaying video streams to other views, while advertisers are able to fund ad campaigns with tokens to support content creators, streaming sites and viewers. These viewers, in return, can gift their tokens to their favorite influencers and content creators.
Theta has provided a highly detailed set of roadmaps that highlight milestones through mid-2019. With its token sale completed in January 2018, the project now looks to build out its system architecture with a testnet deployment slated for late Q2 2018. Looking forward, the Theta Network plans to go live in Q1 2019.
The Theta Network was created by SLIVER.tv, a startup that has been at the forefront of developing next-generation video streaming technologies for VR and spherical 360° video streams since 2015. Since that time, SILVER.tv has become a popular destination for esports live streaming. Led by co-founder and CEO Mitch Liu, the Theta team now looks to build off its platform that boasts over 5 million hits per month.
Theta Token (THETA) currently has a market cap of ~$235 million with a circulating supply of 628,596,079 THETA and a total supply of 1,000,000,000 THETA.
The Theta Network is tackling a highly pervasive, but often overlooked problem that affects almost every internet user. Its decentralized computing architecture offers a truly unique alternative to the highly inefficient and expensive CDN system, and could very well become the market standard in years to come. Theta Token’s value will be directly tied to this adoption, as well as the unique applications the project is building out within its ecosystem.
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Disclaimer: The author(s) of this article may have a position in one or more of the securities mentioned above. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice. Always conduct your own due diligence before making investments.