Digitization, disruption and nextMEDIA Banff

Change is roiling the online and broadcast worlds, and at a panel called “Digitization and Disruption: 5 Rules of Survival” two rivals met to hash out how to ride the wave. Eric Clinker, CEO of Bittorrent, and Dave Purdy, VP and general manager of television products at Rogers Cable certainly come at the phenomenon of digital disruption from different angles. Clinker said P2P is able to scale like no other system, but Purdy said he feels that most of the content on Bittorrent is a violation of someone’s intellectual property. He added that for a company like Rogers, Bittorrent is actually a less efficient protocol than streaming for distributing their content.

Purdy said that we’re moving from a tyranny of broadcasters to a republic of users, and that it’s clear that the consumer is in total control. But at the same time, Rogers is talking to movie studios who are, he said, making the same mistakes the record companies made during Napster’s heyday, and not responding to a changing media landscape.

Purdy also asked Clinker if there’s any way to modify Bittorrent so that people can subscribe to a service, and Clinker said that is in fact possible. There’s no reason Bittorrent can’t deliver DRM-ized content, he said.

Clinker said that it’s inevitable that consumers will get all of their content from the internet in the future, and so it’s important to preserve net neutrality and not let ISPs modify their service to restrict P2P traffic, including Bittorrent. Traffic shaping theoretically doesn’t happen in the US, but it does quite openly occur in Canada. Purdy said while he’s not part of the networking side of the business, he would like to get the most watched video to a point where its robust and cached close to the customer. The closer the content is to the customer, the better the service, he said. The customer need to watch whatever they want whenever they want it is not going to go away and so it must be addressed, he said.