For some time now I’ve been beta-testing Joost, a TV service through the Internet, and it allows you to choose when to watch which program; basically, total control for the end user.
Joost, which is supposed to be pronounced “juiced”, is an initiative by Niklas ZennstrÃƒÂ¶m and Janus Friis, the people behind the highly successful and great Skype service. All the content is “free”, so to speak, in the sense that it is only ad-sponsored. The ads, however, are only shown for a short while, so personally I never even notice them.
The user interface consists of three major parts: My Channels (to the left), My Joost (to the right) and program information (at the top).
If you click the program name at the top, an information overlay is put on top of the clip being played, showing basic information about the selected program.
If you go into the My Channels view, you have a number of channels listed which you can watch. You can also add/remove channels, so it only consists of your favorite ones.
If you choose a certain program in the list, you can get a listing of all the programs that that specific channel contain, and then choose the exact one you want to see at that time.
Also offered is a Channel Catalog, where you can see suggestions for new channels to watch, browse through them based on popularity, staff picks, category or alphabetical order.
A section for interacting with other users and adding your favorite widgets is the My Joost one.
At the moment, not so many widgets are available, but I’m certain that this area will explode in the future.
I think Joost is a great service, I really do! The interface is really nice, and it’s easy to find channels and watch what you want. One other thing that is so good about it is that it is legal, since I’m convinced most people want to do the right thing and not download pirate copies. It’s a perfect example of giving people what they want, to compete with illegal downloading, as opposed to some legislation witch-hunt, which will never succeed.
There’s just one worry I have, and it is a major one that can put a halt to the entire idea. If you look at the Channel overview, you can see that a number of channels are only offered to certain geographical areas (something that I noticed when the National Geographic channel suddenly wasn’t available any more). This is so wrong! While I’m sure that US users won’t care (since most programs are offered to them), things like this is exactly what leads to the rest of the world throwing Joost out of the window and just go back to something like The Pirate Bay instead.
I’m sure this is not based on what the Joost creators envision, but instead stubborn TV companies trying to retain control over something they don’t realize they’ve already lost. Internet is worldwide, remember? Hence, if the service isn’t, people won’t use it. Period.
Another thing I’ve heard, but for which I haven’t got any facts to back it up with, is that major shows (like Lost, Prison Break, CSI etc) won’t be offered through Joost. If that’s true, great! Only offer the crap no one want to watch anyway through Joost, and encourage people to continue downloading them through torrents instead…
All in all, though, you can turn this around! Offer everything worldwide, and this is a service that really has the potential to change the way we view watching TV through the Internet, and decrease illegal downloading. Make the change before it’s too late!
I have two invites to test out the great Joost beta service. Donate to any of the charities below (minimum donation: Ã‚Â£2) and I will send you an invite. First two people will get the invites.