Theta Token is taking the blockchain to video streaming, seeking to decentralize video streaming and video on demand.

Their vision is to provide high quality video streams without the buffering issues often seen today. In addition, they plan on utilizing bandwidth and storage from users to reduce the cost of video streaming while also improving the quality.

However, with such strong competition, does it have what it takes?

In this Theta Token review, we will take an in-depth look at the project including the team, technology, unique selling points and prospects for the THETA token.

Theta Token Overview

We already know that internet users have a huge appetite for video and video streaming services. That’s been proven by the popularity of YouTube, Twitch, Live.ly and the video streaming additions to Facebook and Twitter, as well as the increasingly popular Tik Tok.

In fact, networking hardware company Cisco estimates that over two-thirds of today’s internet bandwidth is taken up by video streaming. That amount is expected to increase to 82% over the next 18-24 months.

While that’s all well and good, today’s video streaming is not perfect. Many video streams suffer from what is known as “last-mile” delivery problems. The Content Delivery Networks have created an infrastructure where large datacenters provide streaming services for specific geographic areas.

However, streams are only as good as the infrastructure that feeds into the actual users homes, and this can sometimes be slow and cause frequent lag, rebuffering and choppy streams.

Theta Token Team Members
Traditional CDN Network vs. Theta Token “Hybrid” solution. Source: White Paper

Theta Token’s team has come up with a solution to the “last-mile” problem using decentralized blockchain technology. That has led to the world’s very first Decentralized Streaming Network (DSN).

In this blockchain network users are incentivized to share their unused memory and bandwidth to improve the overall network. This leads to better overall performance for everyone, all across the globe. According to the Theta labs founder, Mitch Liu

At its core, Theta is enabling users to share their idle bandwidth and computing resources to mine Theta tokens and in turn cache and relay video streams to others in the network

Technology behind Theta Token

The Theta blockchain network is secured by a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, which is far less demanding computationally, and has a higher transaction throughput when compared with Proof-of-Work protocols. By using PoS as the consensus mechanism it’s possible to have many different devices acting as viewers and caching nodes.

You might wonder how Theta Token is handling the issues of scalability in blockchain and video streaming. They have developed a Resource Oriented Micropayment Pool to solve scalability issues. In addition, they are implementing something called Proof-of-Engagement to track the delivery of video segments.

The distribution and collection of rewards on the platform is handled by Smart Streaming Contracts, which are a specific type of smart contracts on the Theta Token blockchain.

Here are more detailed explanations of these new concepts:

Resource-Oriented Micropayment Pool

The Resource Oriented Micropayment Pool was created by Theta Token specifically to create off-chain payment pools that users can for off-chain withdrawals. They have been designed to be resistant to double spending and also offer more flexibility than other off-chain solutions.

Resource Oriented Micropayment Pool
Resource Oriented ​Micropayment Pool ​overview. Source: Whitepaper

If a double spend is attempted it is detected by the validators on the Theta Network. One use case for the Resource Oriented Micropayment Pool is to allow for payments to multiple caching nodes without using on-chain transactions.

The major benefit of using this solution is that it allows for much greater scalability by keeping many micro-transactions off the blockchain.

Proof-of-Engagement

As you might guess from the name, this is a protocol that proves viewers have actually watched a live video. It’s a means of providing transparency for advertisers, as well as being a means for users to earn Theta tokens in return for their engagement.

The Proof-of-Engagement protocol is necessary to create a reliable measure of video stream engagement and a trustworthy way for viewers and advertisers to measure their video stream engagement.

Smart Streaming Contracts

Smart Streaming Contracts are type of smart contract or incentive contract used to help facilitate reward distribution and collection.

Incentive Contracts Theta Network
Examples of Incentive Contracts on Theta Network. Source: Whitepaper

There are a number of use cases for Smart Streaming Contracts, including:

  • Advertisers rewarding streamers and viewers;
  • Viewers gifting rewards to streamers;
  • Gift contracts for multiple streamers;
  • Premium or paid video content;
  • Subscriptions to streamers content or to Decentralized Content Networks;
  • Cachers can share rewards with viewers and content streamers.

The Smart Streaming Contracts were designed to be executed by validators, which means the original person or entity who funds the contract doesn’t need to be involved with distributions or validations.

Theta Token Network

The THETA tokens were launched in December of last year and are currently ERC-20 tokens. Once the blockchain launches (est. late 2018) these ERC-20 tokens can be exchanged for native tokens at a 1:1 ratio.

These tokens are already a part of the SLIVER.tv platform and are used to reward viewers, streamers and those who share their resources (memory/bandwidth) with the Theta Network.

In fact the mainnet did not launch until March 12, 2019, which was a few months late, but the launch went well, with no issues. In addition to swapping the ERC-20 THETA tokens, users also received an airdrop of the Theta Fuel (TFUEL) tokens.

Theta Token Network Overview
The Theta Network Value Proposition and the TFuel Token Flow

Theta Fuel was created to be similar to the “gas” used in the Ethereum network. With the launch of the mainet the Theta Fuel tokens are being used as the reward token of the Theta network.

One of the most important aspects of the Theta mainnet launch was the introduction of Theta Fuel (TFUEL), the “gas” or payment token of the Theta Network. TFUEL powers on-chain operations like payments to relayers for sharing a video stream, or deploying or interacting with smart contracts.

Relayers earn TFUEL for every video stream they relay to other users on the network. You can think of Theta Fuel as the “gas” of the protocol. In conjunction with THETA, the staking and governance token of the protocol, these two tokens make up the economic system of Theta Network.

Network Participants

There are numerous stakeholder and nodes that help prop up the Theta Token ecosystem. The network was created with 5 major groups of stakeholders:

  • Streamers/Influencers – These are the content producers of the network who produce live content and videos for later consumption. They are rewarded with Theta tokens for their contributions.
  • Viewers – The users who come to SLIVER.tv to consume video content. They provide viewer engagement, which is arguably the most important part of the entire video streaming network. Viewers are rewarded for viewing and engaging with videos and can also choose to be rewarded for viewing advertisements.
  • Advertisers – They use the platform to promote services and products to the viewers. They spend Theta tokens to buy advertising time in the network, and to sponsor influencers.
  • Caching Nodes – These are the computers and servers that provide the network with caching services to improve the quality and delivery of the video stream. They are also rewarded with Theta tokens.
  • Ingest Nodes – These are nodes which assist in providing various bitrates, stream resolutions, etc. They provide their services to the caching nodes for live streams and are rewarded for doing so.

Most recently Theta has been testing their new Guardian Nodes, which will finalize blocks in the Theta multi-BFT consensus protocol. These Guardian Nodes are meant to be run by members of the Theta community, and are rewarded with TFUEL. Those wishing to run a Guardian Node must have a computer or server with minimum technical specifications, and must stake 100,000 THETA tokens.

Guardian Nodes Theta Token
Image via Theta Token Twitter

The 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.

The on-boarding on pre-Guardian nodes began in March 2019, and as of November 2019 Theta announced the first 100 Guardian nodes have been selected to run on the Theta testnet.

Theta Token Team & Partners

The Theta Token team is led by CEO and co-founder Mitch Liu, who was also co-founder of the video streaming site SLIVER.tv as well as Gameview Studios and Tapjoy.

A second co-founder is Jieyi Long, who was also a co-founder at SLIVER.tv as well as holding a PhD in computer engineering from Northwestern University. SLIVER.tv is a video game streaming service similar to Twitch, and is one of the backbones in the Theta Token infrastructure.

Adding to the knowledge and growth of Theta is an experienced group of Media Advisors, which includes YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, and Twitch co-founder Justin Kan.

Theta Token Team Members
From Left: Mitch Liu (CEO), Jieyi Long (CTO), Ryan Nichols (Chief Product Officer), Riz Virk (Head of Corp Development)

The Theta Token team has forged several crucial partnerships, including one with Twitch that will allow viewers to earn Theta Fuel Tokens (TFUELHETA) by sharing their bandwidth to broadcast streams.

It also has partnerships with Steam, a video game provider, and with the decentralized cloud computing blockchain Aelf. One other key partnership is with the startup accelerator Play Labs. More recently it has formed partnerships with SamsungVR and with Littlstar, a media platform that gives Theta access to 100+ million Playstaion platforms.

Theta Token Community

The community behind any blockchain project is certainly an important factor to consider as it helps with both spreading the news about the platform, and ultimately with adoption.

The largest community following Theta is on Twitter, which you might expect as Twitter followings seem to be highest for blockchain projects. Theta Network has nearly 70,000 Twitter followers.

What is surprising is the number of Facebook followers the project has. Typically blockchain projects don’t see much activity from Facebook, but the Theta Network’s Facebook page has over 62,000 followers.

Telegram has become increasingly important for blockchain projects, and they often use Telegram as their first place to share news, and as a place to carry on discussions about changes within the platform and community. Theta has almost 11,000 Telegram members, which isn’t a bad showing on that platform.

Another surprise for the project comes from Reddit, which is usually a popular hangout for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, but in the case of Theta there are just 1,111 followers for the Theta subreddit. There are also over 4,000 followers on a defunct Theta subreddit that moved almost a year ago.

Token Price Performance

Rather than holding a public ICO, the Theta Token team held a private sale in which $12 million was raised. The pre-sale token price was $0.15 and by the following month the price had more than doubled to an all-time high of $0.314425 on January 27, 2018.

THETA Price Performance
THETA Price Performance. Image via CMC

Of course that was during the huge rally in blockchain markets in January 2018. After the price dropped back, reaching an all-time low of $0.040310 by December 15, 2018. Price spiked again in March 2019 when the mainnet launched, topping out at  $0.185540 on March 10, 2019.

Since then the price has been drifting lower, and as of November 25, 2019 the price is roughly half the private sale price at $0.073423.

TFUEL Price History

TFUEL appeared on exchanges on March 28, 2019 at an opening price of $0.017001 and it closed nearly unchaged that day at $0.017193. Price fell over the next several weeks, but a spike higher in late May allowed TFUEL to print an all-time high of $0.025061 on May 25, 2019.

Price has been declining ever since and as of November 25, 2019 TFUEL is at its all-time low of $0.002503.

Buying & Storing THETA & TFUEL

The two largest exchange services for THETA are being provided by Binance Exchange and BkEx. There’s also decent volumes being exchanged at Huobi Global, UpBit, and DigiFinex. There’s a handful of other exchanges selling THETA, but with smaller volumes.

Binance THETA
Register at Binance and Buy THETA Tokens

Nearly all the trading volume in TFUEL is at Binance, although there is a small amount being exchanges at Upbit and Bitrabbit. There are only a few other exchanges listing TFUEL and the volumes being exchanged are negligible.

The Theta native wallet was released just days before the mainnet was launched. On March 9, 2019 Theta announced the release of the native web wallet, which can be used for both THETA and TFUEL tokens. This who prefer more security in their cryptocurrency storage can opt for the Trezor or Ledger hardware wallets.

There are also several third-party wallets that support storage of THETA and TFUEL and these include the Trustwallet and the Atomic wallet. Theta Labs has also released mobile versions of the Theta wallet for both Android and iOS

Development & Roadmap

This all sounds well and good but how much development output have the team been pushing recently?

One of the best ways to get a sense of this is to look into a project’s GitHub. By observing the total commits to their open source repositories, we can get a sense of the raw output.

So, I decided to dive into the Theta Token GitHub. Below are the total commits to the top two most active repos over the past 12 months.

Theta Token GitHub
Commits to Select Repos over past year

As you can see, the developers have still been busy working on the core protocol. This is a bit less than we would expect from a project in this stage of development but its still progress.

In fact, if we were to look at sites such as CoinCodeCap, it is clear that the Theta Labs code output falls quite far behind. There are a further 8 code repositories but none of these had any reasonable development in them recently.

In terms of the Roadmap, they are still to expand the content delivery network for other file formats by the end of the year. 2020 could be slightly more interesting as they have the following currently planned:

  • Powering Global Content Delivery with both Static and dynamic web content
  • Integrate Theta data delivery into IoT devices such as cars, Smart TVs and other data rich devices.
  • Optimize Theta Network to use the new 5G Infrastructure.

If you wanted to keep up to date with the latest business developments, then you are best suited to follow their Twitter account as well as their official blog.

Conclusion

Since the launch of the Theta live streaming platform back in 2016 the project has come a very long way. With THETA now live on the SLIVER.tv platform and the mainnet working well, the team has been working to expand the partnerships and reach of the Theta Network.

Video streaming has a huge and increasing demand in the 21st century, and the Theta Token team is looking to make their platform the go-to blockchain for video streaming. It remains to be seen if they can succeed, but they have a very talented and experienced team and a solid vision. Plus they have a very good start compared with some other similar projects.

There are more interesting things being planned now the network is launched, including shared mining rewards to distribute rewards among several users; anti-piracy measures to dis-incentivize piracy.

They are also planning for the inclusion of a general service platform that goes beyond streaming videos, but provides such services as smart streaming contracts. The team has also been looking into ways to integrate the Theta platform into smart TVs, which would theoretically give Theta hundreds of millions of new users.

Despite some recent downward pressure the THETA token is the 66th largest coin on Coinmarketcap.com, while TFUEL is the 277th largest. With the launch of Guardian nodes on the testnet the token bears watching as it could see a rally similar to the one that took place when the mainnet was launched.

Image via Shutterstock

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

Posted by Steve Walters

Steve has been writing for the financial markets for the past 7 years and during that time has developed a growing passion for cryptocurrencies.