January 17, 2007

THE NEXT RULER OF THE ROOST?:

Creators of Kazaa unveil Web TV service (Dawn C. Chmielewski, January 17, 2007, LA Times)

The duo behind the blockbuster Internet applications Skype and Kazaa think they have the secret to online video: Make it more like TV.

Joost (pronounced "juiced") seeks to merge the best features of Internet file-sharing technology -- such as its ability to deliver content efficiently -- with a television-like viewing experience. Industry insiders who have seen an early version of the Internet television service extol the full-screen video quality and the simple interface, which is more of an electronic channel guide than the lists of videos on popular sites such as YouTube.

"Joost offers a very Mac-like experience," said Adam Ware, head of business development for United Talent Agency, who has been testing the service that was developed by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis and unveiled Tuesday.


Skype founders name new video start-up Joost: Company aims to a provide a fast, efficient and cheap distribution method to transmit high-quality video over the Internet. (Greg Sandoval, January 15, 2007, CNET NEws)
Their sparkling track record of creating hit companies aside, Friis and Zennström face a crowded field of competitors, such as YouTube and Apple, which are already well on their way to establishing themselves as video-distribution platforms.

Most important, Joost has yet to strike any marquee partnerships with top film or TV producers. Without them, the company's challenge is a tough one: convincing studio executives and the like to turn over their content to Joost when it has yet to attract a big audience.

BitTorrent, the San Francisco-based distributor of a competing peer-to-peer company, is also vying to license technology to Internet video companies. Another threat could come from the growing number of sites that offer top cable and movie channels without permission. One such company, TVU Networks, made a splash last summer by offering soccer fans the ability to watch World Cup matches on their PC. For a while, TVU Networks was offering HBO, CNN, the Disney Channel and NBAtv before many of those companies forced TVU to cease the practice.

What Joost has going for it is that the software replicates the TV viewing experience better than many of the other companies trying to wed TV to the PC. And this is a time when Hollywood is experimenting with the Internet. During the past year, Warner Bros. cut distribution deals with Guba, a little-known video-sharing site, and BitTorrent, a company that many consider to be synonymous with digital piracy.

Joost's nifty technology may be enough to sway the entertainment industry to place a bet on proven winners in Friis and Zennstrom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2007 7:47 AM
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