Introducing Livepeer — A Decentralized Live Video Broadcast Platform and Crypto Token Protocol

Today I am excited to announce the Livepeer Project. We believe that every person should have access to a platform to share their voice, and in today’s day and age, live video is increasingly becoming the truest, most genuine way to communicate with a wide audience. The goal of the Livepeer Project is to deliver a protocol and platform for decentralized live video broadcast over the internet — to provide the open platform that gives broadcasters, developers, and users the easy ability to get their content and message out to the world.

Streaming some hoops and some League of Legends.

Live Video

Live streaming is rapidly increasing in popularity. People tune into live events like political debates and live sports like the World Cup from their laptops and phones. They join social services like YouNow, Periscope, and Riff to watch streamers entertain and engage with their audience. And they watch eSports on services like Twitch for hours on end. More and more people are canceling their cable subscriptions and turning to the internet for their entertainment, with Youtube viewership set to surpass cable TV viewership shortly.

Yet as it stands today, to actually build an application with live video content, or to broadcast a significant event to a large audience, is still very difficult and very expensive. Broadcasters and developers pay the same few centralized companies in order to transcode and distribute their video to all devices and platforms so that it can reach every viewer. And they pay a lot.

The Livepeer Protocol — A Decentralized Approach

As I’ve written about before, there are many benefits of decentralization. Through coordination and economic incentives in a blockchain based protocol, solutions are possible that can result in a platform being:

  • Cheaper to the end user
  • More scalable
  • More resilient without any single points of failure
  • Open, from both a development perspective, and from a censorship free perspective

Through the combination of an open source media server, a peer-to-peer network, and a soundly designed blockchain based crypto-economic protocol, the Livepeer Project aims to deliver the network that can accomplish all of the above for live video broadcasting. This means that any user or broadcaster will be able to send a stream into Livepeer, and it will take care of:

  • All of the processing required to convert it into every format and bitrate so it can reach the majority of your audience across all devices and connection speeds.
  • Distribution of the content to anyone who requests it.

And it will do it in a way that brings the benefits of decentralization mentioned above. There are currently solutions for payments, computation, and storage in the decentralized stack, but Livepeer is the first solution for live streaming content. Please read the Project Overview for high level technical details on the protocol.

Current Status

Livepeer is an open, community driven project. The software is open source on Github and under active development. There is also a nascent forum and chatroom for questions and discussion. Please get involved!

Plenty of work has begun on development on the video and p2p side, with a proof of concept developed on top of Ethereum, Swarm, and DEVp2p. Developers can build and run a Livepeer node today, and broadcast video into the Livepeer (toy) network using our simple web client or a broadcasting tool like OBS. Any other node in the network can then request their stream, and the network will route the video to the requesting user and play it.

In the future, nodes in the network will earn crypto-token incentives for contributing their processing power and bandwidth in the service of encoding and distributing video through the network, and for participating in the security protocol, much like miners in Bitcoin and Ethereum earn token for mining. At the moment, there is a high level protocol concept, which will need to be refined, researched, and vetted before being submitted for peer review and implementation.

We’re excited to bring Livepeer into the public eye, and look forward to all ideas, comments, feedback, and criticisms of the approach we’re taking to make decentralized live video broadcasting a reality.