Here's another headache for TV stations around the world. With the launch of the Joost service (from the people behind Skype) there's now a TV-quality alternative that allows content creators to distribute their shows, films, music videos, etc. to a global audience. This is an opportunity for content creators (think US and UK broadcasters like Fox, BBC, etc.) to reach a broader audience but it doesn't bode well for TV stations around the world, whose business model is directly tied to broadcasting someone else's content...
TV-quality online network goes live
Audrey Stuart, Cannes, October 15, 2007
THE world's first TV-quality online television network went on display at last week's MIPCOM audiovisual trade show offering legal, free entertainment and raising questions about what this will mean for the massive TV business.
The network, Joost, launched this month just ahead of a clutch of competitors that include Italy's Babelgum, offers legal rather than pirated entertainment for free.
"The internet will start off showing traditional entertainment but eventually users and content creators will use the capabilities of the internet to create some amazing entertainment," said Mike Volpi, who heads up Joost.
Many mighty internet operators, such as AOL, MSN and Yahoo are investing heavily in making their own TV shows.
Media giant News Corp, publisher of The Australian, has spent a fortune buying into massively popular internet social networking site MySpace, and has launched MySpace TV, which will be available in over 12 countries.
And telecommunications companies around the world are investing in IPTV television packages packed with satellite TV shows, as well as video-on-demand that customers can watch on their sitting room TV sets, and pay for in their telephone bill.
The TV and digital media industries are right to be concerned, experts at MIPCOM said, as no one really knows how the current explosion of new ways to watch and interact with television will evolve.
But everyone remembers how the internet quickly changed everyone's lives.
Mr Volpi said over two million users had already downloaded the Joost application needed to use the fledgling TV service, which has been recording more than 100,000 downloads a day since it started on October 1.
But "it's early days," Mr Volpi cautioned, adding that the length of time users were staying on the channel varied enormously from region to region - though it was upwards of 20 minutes.
In the US, TV fans were opting for comedy and sci-fi, while in Latin America, and Brazil in particular, music videos were tops. Europeans were going for full-length feature films.
Mr Volpi said Joost aimed to remain a free service funded by advertisements and hoped to attract more creative, interactive ads.
As to content, he said users could look forward in the future to big-branded TV series as well as a vast library of older TV shows along with the mass of user-generated content on services like YouTube.
Joost would get a huge boost if Volpi succeeds in persuading major TV channels to put "fat belly" crowd-pulling shows such as "CSI" and "Survivor" and major sports events like major league baseball.
But that looked unlikely here, where the world's broadcasting heavyweights this week were busy explaining they were moving into the internet space themselves to increase and keep audiences.
BBC Worldwide digital media head Simon Danker said its popular motoring show "Top Gear" made a big hit on Yahoo Japan after it failed to get a spot for the show on Japanese television.
Leslie Moonves, chief executive of US broadcasting giant CBS, said his company is starting to create original programming for the web as well as exploring other opportunities.