p2ptv, fancy acronym for non-point-to-point broadcast of video, I guess? There is not much information around, except that this is supposed to be “based on bittorrent.” I remain confused.

There has been talk of internet tv for at least a few years now, and while the likes of Youtube have caught on in the last couple of years, I distinctly remember reading about p2ptv quite recently – no more than a year ago. It was in the context of some legal shutdown though. Next I heard about it again was sometime this summer, when at least the software development end of it took off – now there are a dozen competing projects implementing p2ptv. Apparently the driving force was the World Cup. Understandable.

What’s surprising at first is that almost all (or all?) of these projects are taking place in China – in Chinese universities, in Chinese startups, by Chinese hackers, you name it. Many of the channels served are also Chinese stations. And, the English in these products is fairly decent.

There are several stories here:

  • Apparently, the lax digital rights enforcement in China has directly resulted in China taking the lead in pushing internet tv toward the mainstream. This is hilarious. This didn’t come out of nowhere, either. For years, Chinese web sites have been offering pirated movies and tv programs for on-demand viewing online – for a fee. There is of course, bittorrent, for downloading movies. And it’s not just movies or tv shows, music, too – the search function is right there on Baidu. I’m glad some good technology is coming out of this legal mess. (On the other hand, some Chinese TV stations already embrace this model, sometimes feeding their own streams.)
  • The Chinese software industry has finally matured to a degree where it can satisfy more than a domestic demand. There has been the likes of KingSoft and Tencent, which dominate their respective niches in China, but this is the first time that Chinese software is serving a purpose that just isn’t being served by any other software.
  • The English skills of this generation of students are good. With regard to this, somebody pointed out that propaganda pamphlets during the Korean War had perfectly good English – why has there been so much Chinglish since then? My answer is that, right after that, there was a generation of people educated in Russian, then a generation of people educated in nothing but political slogans, then a generation of people who learned English on their own by listening to tapes, and finally, now, the generation being properly educated in English courses. The drop-off in quality and the current improvement both make sense.

Anyway, I downloaded TVUPlayer (one of the lesser clients, TVants being the most popular), and took a test run last night. It worked pretty well. Among the channels, NBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, CCTV, Hunan Dish TV, CTI TV, Pheonix TV, etc. Finally I can watch those Taiwan LY fights live, hoho. Now that’s entertainment.

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