Peer-to-Peer Assisted Streaming Solution

P2PTV overlay network serving three video streams.

Peer-to-Peer Assisted Streaming Solution refers to peer-to-peer (P2P) software applications designed to redistribute video streams in real time on a P2P network; the distributed video streams are typically TV channels from all over the world but may also come from other sources. The draw to these applications is significant because they have the potential to make any TV channel globally available by any individual feeding the stream into the network where each peer joining to watch the video is a relay to other peer viewers, allowing a scalable distribution among a large audience with no incremental cost for the source.

Technology and use

In a P2PTV system, each user, while downloading a video stream, is simultaneously also uploading that stream to other users, thus contributing to the overall available bandwidth. The arriving streams are typically a few minutes time-delayed compared to the original sources. The video quality of the channels usually depends on how many users are watching; the video quality is better if there are more users. The architecture of many P2PTV networks can be thought of as real-time versions of BitTorrent: if a user wishes to view a certain channel, the P2PTV software contacts a "tracker server" for that channel in order to obtain addresses of peers who distribute that channel; it then contacts these peers to receive the feed. The tracker records the user's address, so that it can be given to other users who wish to view the same channel. In effect, this creates an overlay network on top of the regular internet for the distribution of real-time video content.

The need for a tracker can also be eliminated by the use of distributed hash table technology.

Some applications allow users to broadcast their own streams, whether self-produced, obtained from a video file, or through a TV tuner card or video capture card. Lots of the commercial P2PTV applications were developed in China (TVUPlayer, PPLive, QQLive, PPStream). The majority of available applications broadcast mainly Asian TV stations, with the exception of TVUPlayer, which carries a number of North American stations including CBS, Spike TV, and Fox News. Some applications distribute TV channels without a legal license to do so; this utilization of P2P technology is particularly popular to view channels that are either not available locally, or only available by paid subscription, as is the case for some sports channels.[1] Distributing links to pirated P2PTV feeds on a U.S.-based Web site can result in the U.S. government seizing the Web site, as it did with several P2PTV aggregation sites prior to Super Bowl XLV.[2] By January 2009, there were about 14,000 P2P channels on PPStream.

Other commercial P2PTV applications outside China are Abroadcasting (USA), Zattoo (Switzerland/USA), Octoshape (Denmark), LiveStation (UK).

Issues for broadcasters

Notable applications


App Fully Distributed Public Private FOSS First Release Windows Linux Mac Android iOS Comments
StreamRoot No ? ? No 2013[3] Yes Yes Yes No Yes home
PeerCast ? Yes ? ? 2006 Yes Yes Yes No No 4 sources 17 sources
QQLive No ? ? No ? Yes No No ? ? source
FreeCast ? ? ? GPL ? java (2007/04/12) java (2007/04/12) java (2007/04/12) ? ? home source
peerstreamer ? Yes No ? ? play only (2013/12/11) Yes (2013/12/11) play only (2013/12/11) ? ? home source
Tribler Yes Yes ? Yes; LGPL 2007 Yes Yes Yes Yes [4] No home source

Branded webtv service for end-users

Commercial solutions for broadcasters

Free P2P TV software for end users and amateur broadcasters

Unclassified (yet)

See also


  1. Geoffrey A. Fowler; Sarah McBride (2 September 2005). "Newest Export From China: Pirated Pay TV". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on Unknown. Check date values in: |archive-date= (help)
  2. Martinez, Jennifer (2011-02-02). Feds seize sports websites before Super Bowl. The Politico. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
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