Theta is a decentralized video delivery and Streaming Network. Theta team’s vision is to improve the video streaming industry by introducing its own blockchain & protocol. Caching nodes earn tokens for caching and relaying video streams to other viewers. Viewers optionally earn tokens from advertisers as engagement rewards, and can in turn gift them to favorite influcences and content creators. Advertisers fund advertising campaigns with tokens to support influencers, streaming sites and viewers. Streaming sites can add new revenues through sales of premium goods and services. Streaming sites and platforms can offload up to 80% of CDN costs.
The Theta Ledger is a decentralized ledger designed for the video streaming industry. It powers the Theta token ecosystem which incentives end users to share their redundant bandwidth and storage resources, and enables them to engage more actively with video platforms and content creators. To realize these goals, a number of challenges, many of which are unique for video streaming applications, need to be tackled.
According to Cisco’s June 2016 Visual Networking Index report, live video streaming accounts for over two-thirds of all internet traffic today, and it is expected to jump to 82% by 2020. Also, global Virtual Reality (VR) traffic including 360° video streaming content is estimated to grow 61-fold by 2020, at a staggering 127% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). Streaming video in ages of 18 and 34 has jumped 256% from an average of 1.6 hours per week to 5.7 hours per week. The top five video streaming players in the US are Facebook, Google/Youtube, Twitter and related properties, Live.ly and Twitch.
Using the Ethereum EVM “World Computer” metaphor, the Theta Network can be viewed as the “World Cache” formed by the memory and bandwidth resources contributed by viewers.
Revolutiozing Streaming: CDN & Sliver.tv
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) play an important role in the video streaming ecosystem. Typically, CDN providers build data centers called Point-of Presence (POPs) in many locations around the world, with the expectation that these POPs are geographically close to the viewers. However, the number of POPs are limited, hence are not near enough to the majority of viewers, especially in less developed regions. To streaming sites and content platforms, another major concern is the CDN bandwidth cost. For popular sites, the CDN bandwidth cost can easily reach tens of millions of dollars per year. Even if platforms own proprietary CDNs, maintenance costs are often high. These issues are becoming even more prominent with the coming era of 4K, 8k, 360°VR streaming, and upcoming technologies such as light field streaming.
SLIVER.tv has been at the forefront of developing next-generation video streaming technologies for VR and spherical 360° videostreams since 2015, and is the parent company to ThetaLabs, Inc. SLIVER.tv has raised over $17 Million in venture financing from notable Silicon Valley VCs. Today it is the leading next-generation live esports streaming platform with over six million unique visits in July 2018. Video gaming has grown in popularity to become a $40+ billion market and the audience for gaming video content on YouTube and Twitch is estimated to be at 665 million.
Esports is a global phenomenon with major tournaments and major pockets of fans and competitive teams in Europe, Asia and North America. Sliver.tv has 2 patents in VR-streaming and has pioneered the capture and live rendering of popular PC esports games including League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in a fully immersive 360° VR spherical video stream, effectively placing the viewer and audience inside the 3D game through a live videostream, and rendering 360° highlights, replays and special effects in real-time.
Theta will use a Geo-Optimized Tracker Server so that when there isn’t a node available in a short distance the data will be requested from a CDN server instead, to avoid bad video quality. Each peer node may act as a viewer, a caching node or both.
The company’s mission is to leverage blockchain technology to create the first Decentralized Video Streaming and Delivery Network whereby video viewers are incentivized to share redundant computing and bandwidth resources to address today’s video streaming challenges.
P2P beyond Streaming
The Theta protocol can be generalized for any type of data delivery with a profile that lends itself to peer-to-peer sharing. Theta is investigating dedicated hardware, IOT devices, SmartTVs and related approaches that are specifically designed for stream relay and re-broadcast.
Combined with the proliferation of powerful phones, tablets, and other smart devices, this will create robust decentralized edge networks that are transformative to data delivery. This won’t fully replace the centralized cloud; rather it will be a complement that can provide low-latency processing and content delivery for applications that require it. The rollout of consumer 5G networks in 2019 and 2020 will only accelerate this trend.
Public blockchains can also help billions of devices that are part of large networks to communicate securely and without pre-existing trust and provide them a way to transact with each other.
“The answer is NOT for one company or government regulator to control the entire payment infrastructure of this IoT microtransaction economy — it must be public and transparent.”
The governance token of the Theta protocol. THETA is used to stake as a Validator or Guardian node. By staking and running a node, users will earn a proportional amount of the new TFUEL generated. The supply of THETA is fixed at 1 billion and will never increase.
Viewers around the globe can contribute their devices as “ caching nodes ” solving the CDN problems of viewers being geographically far from servers, thus providing better stream quality and helping streaming sites to reduce their CDN bandwidth cost. That’s were the Theta token comes in, helping to incentivize the viewers to become caching nodes, by relaying the video streams to other users for a reward in TFuel tokens. Advertisers can also directly target viewers at a lower cost, viewers earn TFuel tokens for their attention and engagement with their favorite content, and influencers earn TFuel Token gifts directly from viewers.
The Theta Network launched with ERC20-compliant tokens which were integrated into the SLIVER.tv platform in December 2017. The Theta blockchain mainnet code has been released, and the first live mainnet implementation is planned to launch on March 15, 2019, at which time each ERC20 Theta token will be exchanged 1:1 for native Theta tokens.
Theta Fuel Token
TFuel is the operational token of the Theta blockchain, used as the “gas” to pay for video segment microtransactions and smart contract operations. The TFuel token is also built on the Theta blockchain and 5,000,000,000 Gamma will be generated at the time of Mainnet launch. This initial supply of Gamma will be distributed to all Theta token holders at the point of token swap at a ratio of 1:5, seeding the network with enough Fuel for the network to function effectively.
Multi-level BFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerance)
The Three Pillars
There will be thousands of nodes involved in the consensus process, validators + guardians, providing higher level of security. In a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) based consensus mechanism, decentralization means an even stake distribution for everyone. This Multi-Level BFT consensus mechanism allows thousands of consensus participants, while achieving high transaction throughput (1,000+ TPS).
Validators: Produce the chain of blocks as fast as possible.
Guardians: Finalize the chain generated, at regular checkpoint blocks.
Guardian Nodes finalize blocks in Theta’s Multi-BFT consensus protocol, and are meant to be run by members of the Theta community. Users that run Guardian Nodes will be rewarded with TFUEL.
Guardian Node functionality will go live in Q3 2019. However, there will be a Guardian Node onboarding program released by the end of March, including a downloadable client that will allow users to earn TFUEL based on the amount of Theta Tokens they hold, their “node” uptime, and their system specs. For the Guardian Node onboarding client, there is no minimum number of Theta Tokens to hold, and all users will be able to earn TFUEL.
Evaluation of the top participants in the Guardian Node onboarding program will influence which users will be the first to participate in operating Guardian Nodes upon their release.
There will be a minimum requirement of 100,000 Theta Tokens staked to run a Guardian Node.
Hardware requirements to run a Guardian Node are:
- Internet speed: 5Mbps+ up and down
- CPU: 8 cores or more
- Memory: 32 GBytes or more
- Disk size: 1TB or more, SSD hard drive preferred
Aggregated Signature Scheme
Smaller blocks to decrease the size of the Theta Blockchain Ledger.
Reduces messaging complexity to increase scale. Each guardian node combines the partially aggregated signatures from all its neighbors, and then transmits the aggregated signature. It reduces the node-to-node messages size, and improves communication speed.
Resource Oriented Micropayment Pool
An off-chain “Resource Oriented Micropayment Pool” that is purpose-built for video streaming. It allows a user to create an off-chain micropayment pool that any other user can withdraw from using off-chain transactions, and is double-spend resistant. It is much more flexible compared to off-chain payment channels, because it allows a viewer to pay for video content pulled from multiple caching nodes without on-chain transactions. You can learn more about the Multi-Level BFT here.
Theta 2019-2020 Roadmap
- Release Theta wallet for Android OS, Apple iOS, web (completed)
- Transition majority of SLIVER.tv streamers and channels to the Theta infrastructure (in-progress)
- Launch Theta Mainnet on March 15th
- Complete Theta token swap based on snapshot of existing ERC20 Theta tokens on Ethereum blockchain (1:1)
- Complete Theta Fuel distribution to existing Theta token holders (1:5)
- Update Block Explorer
- Beta release universal edge cacher client
- Launch 3rd party Validator partner program
- Enhance Mesh Streaming Network scalability
- Enhance Blockchain scalability
- Launch Developer tools for Theta mainnet integration
- Beta release Android mobile SDK integration with initial partners
- Launch support for video on demand (VoD) in Theta Mesh Streaming Network
- Launch guardian node functionality and onboard initial group of community-run guardian nodes
- Beta release support for Android-based set-top boxes and smart TVs
- Introduce guardian nodes into the validator node set on rotating basis
- Launch smart contract support
- Expand Theta content delivery beyond video to support all forms of data (e.g. file updates, game patches, video ads, audio/music, etc)
2020 and beyond:
- Power global data content delivery including static and dynamic web content
- Integrate Theta data delivery into IoT devices, smart TVs, smart cars, and other data transfer-rich applications
- Optimize Theta Network to leverage new 5G infrastructure and applications
Mainnet Wallets – Token Swap
You can store your ERC-20 Theta tokens, to be eligible for the token swap on March 15, on the mobile wallets (Android/iOS) and on the Theta Web wallet for desktops. You can access the web wallet here: https://wallet.thetatoken.org/
So far, Binance, Huobi, DigiFinex, UPbit, Bithumb, and Gate.io have confirmed their support for the mainnet and token swap. In the future, the Theta Mainnet tokens will be supported by the Ledger Nano & Trezor hardware wallet devices.
I contacted Theta Network to discuss about the streaming industry and to learn more about the mainnet release. Above you can see the new updated roadmap with their plans for 2019-2020.
Q: Hello, can you describe your role in Theta and what is Theta’s vision?
A: As Head of Strategy I focus on Theta’s business strategy, marketing, and communications. Theta is creating a decentralized data delivery network. Users can share content with other users to earn token rewards. Platforms and business that adopt the Theta protocol can reduce their content delivery costs and increase their user engagement and retention. Our first focus is on video streaming, but the Theta protocol can also be used for other types of data delivery program updates, ads, and game patches which we’re working on later in 2019.
Q: What has the team accomplished in 2018?
A: In 2018 we launched the Theta testnet, and onboarded several different video platforms onto the testnet including Samsung VR, Korean news channel MBN, and our esports streaming platform SLIVER.tv. We also began working with video platforms Pandora.tv and CJ Hello to integrate the Theta Network in their services.
Q: What are Theta’s use-cases? Besides streaming websites like SLIVER.tv and Twitch, can the protocol also be applied in TV apps like Netflix?
A: Yes, Video on Demand (VOD) applications like Netflix can be improved by the Theta protocol as well, especially popular shows with many concurrent users to share the video between each other.
Q: Will the users be able to withdraw and sell the Theta tokens they earn from sharing bandwidth, or will it only be usable within the websites?
A: Users will earn Theta Fuel, the transaction token of the protocol, for sharing their bandwidth with nearby viewers. They can use those tokens on the platforms they earned them on, or withdraw them to a Theta wallet.
Q: Theta is involved in SamsungVR. How will Theta help the Virtual Reality industry? Also, what is light field streaming?
A: VR streaming requires massive amounts of data transfer – 10 times greater than a typical 1080p stream. This means platforms have much larger CDN costs, and even more incentive to offload part of those to the Theta Network. Light field streaming is an advanced rendering method for VR streams that has even greater bandwidth demands.
Q: It appears that you’re using WebTorrent technology. That will practically help ease of use (due to largely utilizing the users’ browsers) and assist adoption of the platform. Have you come up with additional innovations in regards to streaming, storage, hosting (maybe something like ZeroNet or a combination of cdns + P2P seeding) or monetization?
A: Yes, the tracker server part of the Theta protocol introduces several new techniques that are tailored for decentralized / P2P sharing of video fragments, like splitting video fragments in multiple slices to improve efficiency between peers. By adding token rewards as an incentive for users to share more video to others, we can create a more robust P2P network.
Q: Are you looking to license the technology to third parties (like, say, Netflix, Twitch or CDNs?) Or is your model tailored more towards directly competing with other platforms?
A: Theta is an open-source protocol that any video platform can adopt and integrate into their content delivery system. It’s not a competing video platform, but instead infrastructure that can help video platforms operate more efficiently and competitively. So we see platforms like Netflix and Twitch as potential partners, not competitors.
Q: Will the videos be available in different qualities and will they be stored and accessible at all times (like Youtube, BitChute)? Or only during Livestreaming?
A: We’re starting off with livestreaming P2P video, but expanding Theta to VOD is in progress and will be rolled out later in 2019.
Q: In the case that you offer your own hosting service how will you deal with content takedowns and generally managing your platforms? Will users be able to choose how, where and when to contribute? What about content management, like removing content or blocking access to it? (e.g., DMCAs)
A: Theta is actually a video delivery protocol and infrastructure, which can be adopted by video platforms to reward their users and reduce CDN costs. Issues of content management will still be managed at the platform level by our partners.
Q: I read in the Whitepaper that with the Mainnet release a new token will be introduced, the Theta Fuel token. Will Theta Fuel be tradable on exchanges or will it be only used for transaction fees like Ethereum’s gas?
A: Yes, Theta Fuel will be traded on exchanges as a second token built on the Theta blockchain.
Q: With the Theta mainnet release, Theta will transition to a Proof-of-Stake model. Can you tell us how much % users will get from staking and what is the minimum token amount required?
A: We recently released a blog with more info on our Guardian Node system, you can learn more here.
Staking your Theta Tokens and running a node let’s users earn a proportional share of the Theta Fuel generated, which will increase in supply by a projected 5% per year.
Q: What are your thoughts about the future, and what can we expect from Theta in 2019? Is there something you would like to add?
A: Our team believes that the future for blockchain applications has never looked brighter. We are very excited about the Theta mainnet launch next week and onboarding our great video platform partners. We’ve got a lot more coming in 2019 and will be releasing a new 2019 roadmap in just a few days. To find out more, check us out at https://www.thetatoken.org or join us in our Telegram.
I thank Wes for the information and for taking the time to discuss with me, as he is busy with the mainnet launch later in the week.
If you want to learn more about Theta you can check the links, below:
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