Joost kicks the cable tv industry in the nuts, and you are invited to watch

I picked up an invitation code for Joost over on Jyte last week, and I just took the time to download and install it.

For those who don’t know, Joost is the latest venture from the creators of Skype and Kazaa. Kazaa kicked the music industry in the nuts by providing a decentralized version of Napster. Skype kicked the long distance industry in the nuts by providing easy to use high-quality peer-to-peer internet telephony.

So, that would make Joost a swift kick in the nuts of the cable TV industry. It uses peer-to-peer technology to provide video on demand over the internet. This could make it possible for content producers like HBO to connect with viewers without having to cut in the cable companies (or the cable “networks” for that matter). I’m thrilled at the prospect. I like a lot of HBO programming, but I don’t want to have to deal with the shifty sales tactics of the cable companies in order to get to it, so I end up waiting for things to come out on DVD.

It differs from other P2P distribution of video in a few ways. From the end users point of view, it has the advantage of a slick, learnable user interface that can start playing new video almost instantly.

From the content creators point of view, it has the advantage of allowing them to maintain a degree of control over their content — they decide what gets made available, and how long it remains available. Plus, it looks like there is advertising, which suggests they have a way to get paid.

Of course, as a consumer, I see the ads as a disadvantage. I don’t know how many minutes of ads Joost will ultimately lace their programming with. I do know that network TV devotes almost 20 minutes of every hour to ads. Cable TV is sometimes better, and often worse. I really have better things to do than watching ads. If the price was right, and the programming was decent, I’d pay not to have to see them.

The Joost experience is a mixed bag so far. The installation process is very straightforward and there is basically no configuration, other than signing in to the service once. The UI is a little puzzling, but it doesn’t take long to find all the features, and once you do, it’s pretty easy to remember how to use and find them again. Joost is promising a social experience around TV watching, but so far, I haven’t experienced it. I’ve joined chatrooms for a few of their “channels” and ended up talking to myself because there haven’t been any other users. The video quality is pretty good. Definitely better than YouTube, but generally not as good as a ~360MB/hr XVID, plus, I’ve experienced issues with the stream stuttering or pausing due to network congestion.

Joost could be an interesting test of net neutrality since it depends on infrastructure often provided by competitors (Cable internet) or potential competitors like DSL providers, which are generally phone companies who have their own video ambitions.

The programming on Joost seems decidedly like extended basic cable. Old National Geographic specials, reality shows, niche sporting events, some MTV programming and various independent films. Production qualities are also basic cable-grade, which these days, can be pretty slick. I hope they open it up a little bit and start taking stuff of compelling interest even if the production values are a little more like what two dedicated and talented amateurs can pull off in their spare time.

But hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. I’ve got an invite code or two, so you can check it out for yourself. Just leave me an e-mail address and I’ll send them out, first come, first served.

UPDATE: I’m all out of invites!

16 thoughts on “Joost kicks the cable tv industry in the nuts, and you are invited to watch

  1. Maureen

    Hey…interesting article on Joost. I’m excited about it, too — and very happy to use it to replace my cable subscription (for a truly cable-destroying /cable-bypass experience see this ).

    I’m not worried about the commercials — there aren’t many, and they need to get paid somehow. But I am worried about the bandwidth issues. Can the internet handle all this video? Will my cable company start charging me through the roof?

    – Maureen

  2. HOTI75

    It’s interesting you bring up net neutrality. I think net neutrality will hurt applications like Joost in the long run because, as even Google has admitted, online video weighs on the internet and heavy investments are needed to meet the growth of traffic. Very exciting times but the internet’s backbone needs to be strengthened.

    Admittedly, I work with a coalition opposing net neutrality, Hands Off the Internet. I’m excited about these new choices for consumers, which is why I wonder why net neutrality proponents are scaring people into government regulation that will only slow us down.

  3. eas Post author

    I think the telcos and cable companies should bow down and kiss the feet of the internet companies on a daily basis. Both were flailing away unsuccessfully at their own captive interactive services for what, a decade, before internet entrepreneurs came along and gave them a new reason to live.

    Without Yahoo, Google, YouTube, eBay etc, the wireline infrastructure of the old telcos would have been worth next to nothing as more and more people migrated to cell phones. The cable companies would still only have one line of business. As it is now, both camps get a shot at another $20 to $60 per household for broadband internet based largely on the risk and innovation by the very companies they are now trying to shake down.

    Rather than investing and actually innovating, they are trying to shake down Google, etc because they somehow think that they “own” the internet users who are paying them good money. BullSHIT!

    “Hands off the internet”: indeed!

    They’ll be equally lucky if Joost succeeds, or they’ll end up competing with wireless broadband providers.

  4. joey

    If you have an extra Joost Code invitation and you wanna share it with me. You have my e-mail.

  5. Chaithanya

    Hai i think this is gonna create sensation in cable network.If this happens successfully then no need for people to pay lots of money for these Cable operators and even u can enjoy all channels.If any 1 gets invitation i wanna share with them.

    Thank you.

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