Theta is a decentralized video delivery network, powered by users and an innovative new blockchain. Theta is an open source protocol purpose-built to power the decentralized streaming network and will allow for vertical decentralized apps (DApps) to be built on top of the platform to enable esports, music, TV/movies, education, enterprise conferencing, peer-to-peer streaming, and more. SLIVER.tv’s DApp will be the first application built on the Theta network leveraging its existing user base of millions of esports viewers.
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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. 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.
Specifically, viewers around the globe can contribute their devices as “caching nodes” whereby they form a video delivery mesh network that is responsible for delivering any given video stream to viewers anywhere around the world optimized for local. The Theta Network can effectively address the technical challenges discussed in the previous section. First, viewers’ devices are geographically much closer to each other than to the CDN POPs. This reduces packet round-trip time and improves the stream delivery quality, and thus addresses the “last-mile” delivery issue. Second, with a sufficient amount of caching nodes, most viewers will receive the stream from caching nodes, which will help streaming sites reduce their CDN bandwidth cost. Third, caching nodes also reduce round-trip time making foveated and next-generation streaming technology practical.
To encourage viewers to contribute their computing and bandwidth resources, we introduce the Theta token as an incentive mechanism. Caching nodes can earn tokens as they relay video streams to other viewers. Not only does the Theta Token motivate viewers to join the network as caching nodes, it also greatly improves the streaming market efficiency by streamlining the video delivery process. We will discuss later in the paper, but within the Theta Network, advertisers can also directly target viewers at a lower cost, viewers earn Theta Tokens for their attention and engagement with their favorite content, and influencers earn Theta Token as gifts directly from viewers. More interestingly, streaming and content platforms can open up new and incremental revenue opportunities with Theta.
The full launch of the Theta protocol introduces a new blockchain and a native token structure where:
- 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 to favorite influencers and content creators
- Streaming sites and platforms can drive incremental new revenues through sales of premium goods and services, and deepen user engagement through Theta
- Advertisers fund advertising campaigns with tokens to support influencers, streaming sites and viewers
- Streaming sites and platforms can offload up to 80% of CDN costs
The Theta protocol builds upon the following novel concepts:
Multi-Level BFT: A modified BFT consensus mechanism which allows thousands of nodes to participate in the consensus process, while still supporting very high transaction throughput (1,000+ TPS). The core idea is to have a small set of nodes, which forms the validator committee, to produce a chain of blocks as fast as possible using a PBFT-like process. Then, the thousands of consensus participants, called the guardians, can finalize the chain generated by the validator committee at regular checkpoint blocks. The name multi-level BFT consensus mechanism reflects the fact that the validator/guardian division provides multiple levels of security guarantee. The validator committee provides the first level of protection — with 10 to 20 validators, the committee can come to consensus quickly. The guardian pool forms the second line of defense. With thousands of nodes, it is substantially more difficult for attackers to compromise, and thus provides a much higher level of security. We believe this mechanism achieves a good balance among transaction throughput, consistency, and level of decentralization, the three pillars of the so-called “impossible triangle”.
Aggregated Signature Gossip Scheme: A naive all-to-all broadcasting of the checkpoint block hash could work between guardian nodes, but it yields quadratic communication overhead, and so cannot scale to 1,000+ nodes. Instead, we propose an Aggregated Signature Gossip Scheme which could significantly reduce messaging complexity. Each guardian node keeps combining the partially aggregated signatures from all its neighbors and then gossips out the aggregated signature. This way the signature share of each node can reach other nodes at exponential speed thanks to the gossip protocol. In addition, the signature aggregation keeps the size of the node-to-node messages small, and thus further reduces the communication overhead.
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. In particular, for the video streaming use case, it allows a viewer to pay for video content pulled from multiple caching nodes without on-chain transactions. By replacing on-chain transactions with off-chain payments, the built-in “Resource Oriented Micropayment Pool” significantly improves the scalability of the blockchain.
- 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)
- Power global data content delivery including static and dynamic web content