Livepeer For Beginners

Doug Petkanics
Published in
4 min readSep 19, 2017

The Livepeer Project is building technology for broadcasting and streaming live video over the internet. The following different types of users can make use of Livepeer:

  • Developers who want to build applications that include live video can use the Livepeer to power their video functionality.
  • Users who want to stream video, gaming, coding, entertainment, educational courses, and other types of content can use applications built on Livepeer to do so.
  • Broadcasters who have large audiences and high streaming bills or infrastructure costs can use the Livepeer network to potentially reduce costs or infrastructure overhead.

About six months ago we introduced Livepeer through this post, which serves as good background for why we believe Livepeer should exist. Much of the content we’ve put out since then has been very technical in nature, including our Whitepaper which outlines a protocol for securely creating and incentivizing a decentralized network. The rest of this post will serve as an easier introduction to Livepeer, and what we believe is interesting about it, without getting deep into the technical details.

Livepeer is live video infrastructure. It is the technology that lets you broadcast video over the internet, or lets anyone build video into their own app or web site.

Livepeer is decentralized. There is no single company operating the Livepeer network. Everyone who runs the Livepeer software is part of the Livepeer infrastructure, and they are all owners in the network. See more about the benefits of decentralization here.

Livepeer is incentivized. Users who run the Livepeer software can earn money. They contribute their computer’s processing power and bandwidth in service of the Livepeer network, and they get compensated for doing so. You can run the Livepeer software and participate.

Livepeer is open. All the code that powers the Livepeer video infrastructure and network is open source. Anyone can contribute and build whatever they want on top of Livepeer. You can build what you want and you can stream what you want.

Livepeer is built on Ethereum. Ethereum is a platform that lets us embed economic rules and incentives into software (see introduction). If Livepeer lets some users pay to broadcast video, and other users get paid to provide the resources, then Ethereum is what lets us embed the rules that dictate who will get paid, how much they’ll get paid, and what they’ll have to do to prove that they didn’t cheat and actually provided the real valuable work to the system.

Livepeer has a crypto-token, called Livepeer Token, or LPT. All payments and all compensation through Livepeer is not done is US dollars or other currency. It’s done through a crypto-token called LPT. LPT has important uses in keeping the Livepeer network safe and secure. Many crypto-tokens can be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies, and eventually for local government currency as well.

Everyone who holds LPT has the opportunity to participate in the Livepeer network. If you’ve earned or purchased LPT, then you can use it to broadcast video. But you also have the option to participate in the network by running the software the services and secures the network. And therefore you can earn further fees and LPT rewards as the network becomes more valuable. Everyone who holds LPT wants the network to be as useful and valuable as possible.

Normally if you want to broadcast video over the internet, you either pay a company to provide the infrastructure and bandwidth to do it, or you use a free social network to do it in exchange for letting them control and monetize your users.

In Livepeer’s case, there is no central company in control of the network. Competition to earn the LPT generated from the network and from broadcaster fees will allow anyone to try and maximize their profit by running the most efficient hardware/software and using the cheapest electricity and bandwidth to serve the network. This will result in an open system, which is:

  • Cheap to use
  • Lets users, developers, and broadcasters control their own user experience and monetization
  • Scales to support any size audience
  • Has a thriving community of participants who all stand to benefit from doing work that increases the usefulness of the Livepeer network

If you read down the Livepeer column in the above comparison, you’ll see that Livepeer is really about freedom and empowerment. The Livepeer project gives users the tools to build what they want, broadcast the content they want, monetize how they want, and pay-as-they-go at a competitive market price that scales automatically as their audience grows.

For further updates on Livepeer, you should follow @LivepeerOrg on twitter and join our community chat.



Doug Petkanics

Building live streaming on the blockchain at Livepeer. Previously Founder, VP Eng at Wildcard and Hyperpublic (acquired by Groupon).