BitTorrent Takes On Apple's iTunes

BitTorrent announced a new music and film downloading service today as the company tries to take on Apple and Microsoft in the highly competitive area, reported CNBC's Julie Boorstin.

The "BitTorrent Entertainment Network" lets customers rent TV shows for $1.99 and movies for $2.99.

Its current library is one of the most comprehensive online with over 3,000 film and TV files and thousands of music video and audio files and computer games. The company plans to make more than 10,000 titles available online, Boorstin reported.

San Francisco-based BitTorrent, once infamous because its technology enabled users to illegally download music, battled to overcome that reputation and is now partnering with some 35 companies, including Paramount, Warner Bros., Fox, Viacom's MTV Networks and MGM.

The file-sharing software allows people to download from each other instead of a main server, making even high-definition downloads faster and cheaper. Another advantage: 135 million people have already downloaded BitTorrent software.

BitTorrent president Ashwin Navin says BitTorrent's new system will be the main competitor to Apple's upcoming iTV and Microsoft's video marketplace.

While BitTorrent certainly has some major advantages with its huge catalog and large existing user base, it faces the challenge of convincing people to start paying for content.

Navin says the company will offer free, ad-supported content but thinks the sheer breadth of high-quality content will find a willing audience.