DigiMeld is the latest company to offer a peer-to-peer approach to streaming live video over the internet. The Manhattan based company has completed an initial funding round of $2 million from angel investors. It has launched an online video portal for independent and commercial video producers to self-publish live or on-demand streaming channels using its DigiMeld SuperStream technology.

DigiMeld TV claims to provide interactivity including live chat, geographic filtering, subscription and pay-per-view options, flexible advert insertion and realtime viewer statistics.

“We are providing tools that will enable anyone to launch their own video channel and ensure that the web video revolution continues to expand,” said founder Alex Mashinsky. “With our intelligent grid streaming solution, we can provide greater cost efficiencies, a superior user experience which is not available to the mid-size content providers, and an improved network load balance beyond what traditional CDNs currently offer.”

“The broadcaster and advertiser need new ways to leverage their investments in Internet video, and we have created a portal that uses our grid streaming solution to enable a true broadcast-quality, mass-event distribution.”

The company says the system has undergone a successful live trial with over 100,000 concurrent viewers. The system was launched at the Streaming Media West conference in San José.

Users require a plugin to view the SuperStream video. It is currently only available for Microsoft Windows using Internet Explorer and Windows Media, although an Apple Mac version is in development.

Live material is initially cached on media servers and then distributed to a number of “super viewers”. Once those “super viewers” begin viewing, all additional viewers become part of the grid-streaming network, retrieving data from, and in turn supplying data to, other peers in the network.

DigiMeld seems to suggest that the majority of users in the grid are fed by other users. In other systems that informitv has investigated the upstream bandwidth available to users has proved to be the limiting factor.

For on-demand services, DigiMeld suggests that a supplementary distribution network is also required to support streaming across the grid. This has also been found to be the case with other systems that employ a hybrid peer-assisted approach.

Having reviewed many similar systems, the issues that invariably arise are not necessarily with the technology but with the business model and the availability of programming. So far there are only a few channels available, including NASA TV.

For their part, a number of broadcasters are actively investigating peer-to-peer delivery. The European Broadcasting Union has been investigating peer-to-peer distribution through its D/P2P technical group. At the recent IBC show in Amsterdam some of the work of the European Union P2P-Next project was demonstrated on a Pioneer set-top box.