In my quest of simplifying some of the ground-breaking technologies in the blockchain ecosystem, today I bring to you- Theta Blockchain a decentralised video delivery network aimed at revolutionising the way we consume content on the internet. Addressing the technical and economic problem faced by the streaming sector, this project is rather exciting, for it can be the future of live streaming if it continues to gain users at the current rate. To give you a perspective, Theta labs has three patents to its credit and the fourth one has been filed.
What is Theta Blockchain?
Remember the good old days of Limewire, when we could download any music, movies, software and all for free? It made life so simple and easy through its peer-to-peer network. It was an open source, completely free, file sharing and distribution system. Theta blockchain, like Limewire, is a P2P network of a different sort. Theta is a decentralised video delivery network which is designed to incentivise the sharing of bandwidth across the network.
In other words, users are given the opportunity to share their redundant/excess/unused computing and bandwidth resources to address the challenges faced by the video streaming platforms.
The team aims at providing users high quality video streams without the annoying re-buffering and associated high costs. Costs for owning and maintenance of CDN bandwidth are significant (tens of millions of dollars per year). More on CDN below. These costs are only becoming more and more prominent with the upcoming 4K/8K 360 degree VR streaming and the lightfield streaming in the future. Theta's end goal is to be able to solve all these problems by providing a seamless streaming solution.
Solution to the Last Mile problem
All of us spend considerable amounts of time on the internet and I think it’s safe to say a large portion of that time is spent on portals like Facebook, Youtube, Netflix or other video streaming services. However, it is important to note these high resolution high bitrate 4k, 8k streaming portals struggle with the provision of adequate resolution and high speeds to meet the growing demand. Referred to as the last-mile issue, the centralised infrastructure of these streaming platforms is a major concern and Theta with its innovative blockchain eliminates the bottlenecking of traditional content delivery platforms.
The content delivery platforms operate through content delivery networks.
What are content delivery networks? The content delivery network (CDN) is a large, geographically distributed network of specialised servers that accelerate the delivery of web content and rich media to Internet-connected devices through a technique called 'edge caching’. Simply put, it stores replicas of static text, image, audio, and video content in data centres around the 'edges' of the internet.
Problem - The problem with the current model is that the number of data centres are limited and not close enough to all users, making video streaming, a choppy experience for those in far-off regions.
Solution - ENTER Theta – a revolutionary blockchain that maximises functionality by serving user requests through a nearby edge server or by pulling streams from peering caching nodes. In short, from the nearby users through P2P.
Theta grants access to a global infrastructure for video content and data delivery -It provides esports, music, TV/movies, education, enterprise conferencing, peer-to-peer streaming, and more. Essentially, it provides a better web experience for those participating (whether they're involved with content creation or viewing). And, the fact that this platform is decentralised ensures it is powered by users.
The main streaming platform on the Theta network is Theta.tv - where content creators can live stream and get paid through credit card donations, subscriptions and TFUEL (token rewards- native to the theta blockchain).
Users can tip creators with TFUEL- now the obvious question is where do users get TFUEL from? Well, the network rewards users for watching the live stream. It's an excellent economic model wherein users give donations to creators in the same currency they are getting paid & being entertained on the platform.
Point to note- opt for streams with an orange TFUEL icon on the top right in order to earn TFUEL.
For those who want to understand the how and why they reward users- Theta rewards users for sharing the already downloaded and cached portion of the video they are watching, with other nearby users that are watching the same content as they are at the same time.
And there's more- The theta.tv dapp is set to be included on Samsung Galaxy phones in the future. If and when this happens, Theta will be able to garner a massive worldwide following.
Simply put Theta.tv is a proof of concept of how the network can be leveraged by ANY video delivery platform using their current standard CDNs as the 1st layer and then overlapping Theta network's P2P bandwidth sharing as a 2nd layer which results in decreasing the cost and delays and increasing the quality.
Tokenomics- Theta token and TFUEL
Theta token and TFUEL are the two cryptocurrencies that are native to the Theta blockchain. Together they make up the economic system of the Theta network. A little about each one of them-
With a capped supply of 1,000,000,000 tokens this is the governance token of the Theta blockchain. This token's governance aspect is still in its infancy and it's primarily used for staking, running a node and to earn a proportional amount of TFUEL.
Its use is similar to that of gas on Etheruem, it is the utility token of the network. TFUEL can be earned in 4 ways- by viewing content on the network, by becoming a content creator and earning donations/subscriptions, by simply providing bandwidth to the network by running a caching node or by Theta.tv bandwidth sharing which is technically different then running a caching node and instead is done directly through the browser/site.
Theta with its revolutionary and innovative blockchain technology has managed to catch the eyes of some big hitters. These include the Co-Founder of YouTube, Steve Chen, and Justin Kan, the Co-Founder of the gaming streaming platform, Twitch amongst others.
The best thing about Theta is that it isn't trying to replace or take over any live streaming platform like Youtube instead its intention/purpose is to provide an infrastructure that is decentralised and cheaper.
Theta has managed to collaborate with Lionsgate for streaming content on Theta.tv. Theta added CAA, the Hollywood Powerhouse as a validator alongside seven other external Theta Enterprise Validator and Governance Council members, that include Google, Samsung and Sony, as well as major private equity and cryptocurrency firms.
It also has a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace called ThetaDrop.
After the launch of Theta 3.0 on June 30, token holders will gain the capability of staking and burning TFUEL. It is one of the most awaited events for Theta community.
For more info on Theta, click on the link for their docs.
Theta community has already started building the Theta ecosystem. Q1 2021 Theta hackathon featured some great projects like HarkTV, Minty, Thetascan and these will only propel Theta ahead. Theta has some big players backing it and with growing partnerships, I have exceeding expectations from this network. Do you share my thoughts?
Do comment below.
I will covering other aspects of Theta in subsequent articles. I do have an account on theta.tv which you can use to sign up.
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(Please note - This article will also show under my alter ego - Cyek)