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Pando Introduces Streaming Service
The popular peer-to-peer file sharing platform claims it has more than 8 million users. It’s now pursuing content publishers to reach that installed base with its Pando Publisher streaming service.
Mon., June 25, by Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen

At this year’s Streaming Media East conference in May, there was plenty of buzz about P2P, and one of the names that kept coming up again and again was Pando. At the time, however, the excitement came with a caveat, as Pando didn’t allow content owners to deliver video via streaming or progressive download.

Individual users could, of course, use Pando’s lightweight software client to send large files—including video—to each other, but not until the announcement last week of Pando Publisher did Pando Networks enter the realm of streaming video. But what separates it from other P2P names that have been garnering attention, most notably BitTorrent and Joost, is that unlike those networks, Pando is not a destination site or a content aggregator.

Also unlike those networks, by the time Pando Publisher was announced, Pando already had more than 8 million client downloads in the last year; Joost only has about 500,000 users. Seems that the file-exchange capability (which works terrifically) was also something of a Trojan horse to get the client onto users’ desktops. Now that it’s out there, it’s Pando’s hope that content publishers will take advantage of Pando Publisher to reach this already-existing user base.

"If you’re going to be truly disruptive with technology, you need to start with users and go upstream," says Pando CEO Robert Levitan, who also co-founded iVillage. "We’re just a platform, and now content creators can use Pando to deliver video from their own websites, as well as from aggregators. Again and again, I hear entertainment company executives say ‘We want to put our content everywhere’. With sites like YouTube, your content will be everywhere anyway, so you’d better be the one to distribute it."

Pando Publisher can work on top of existing content delivery networks and features a web-based media publishing console as well as dynamic ad insertion and detailed user and usage reporting, according to the company. Current clients include Blip.tv and Revver, according to the company.

And what does Levitan say to the oft-cited argument against P2P that end users will be reluctant to download clients to their machines? "Sure, we’d have more users if there wasn’t a client to download, but in order to receive high-quality video, people are realizing that they need some software assistance," he says, pointing to other services like iTunes and Skype, both of which require users to download much bigger software than Pando’s 4MB client.

In fact, he thinks that such clients might become almost ubiquitous. "The home run would be to have the client preinstalled on computers, the way Adobe Acrobat is now," Levitan says. "I think that relatively soon, we’ll see a progressive PC manufacturer preload their machines with a P2P video client."