Juicy Joost

March 25, 2007 at 8:52 pm (stuff, web 2.0)

There’s been a lot of buzz about Joost lately, the new software from the creators of Kazaa and Skype, which allows users to watch television over the internet. My first thought was, “yeah…and?” It seems counterintuitive to take a technology as old as television and simply give it a new form. But it does seem to have a few added bells and whistles—rewind and pause (though with television’s instinctive paranoia against pirating, “record” is not a likely feature)—it also includes a ratings system and chat windows, so you can discuss programs as they happen. Joost will be presented in a channel format, rather than the click-to-play per program or clip like most of the video currently on the internet. And, spurned by YouTube, Viacom has signed up to broadcast its programs on Joost (any relation to the lawsuit, I wonder?).

Joost is P2P, so it will make its money through advertising, again, much like traditional television, and this may really be the advancement that Joost can provide. Current television ratings are a generally agreed-upon falsehood. Advertising dollars are based on Nielsen ratings, meaning that what 1% of the population watches determines how much television networks can charge for airtime. This is why there are such things as sweeps—the periods when viewers are creating diaries that detail one week of their personal viewing—so they often save the exciting plot twists and guest stars for February, May, July and November. If internet television becomes the norm, it will give programmers even more opportunity to track viewer patterns through fuzzy logic, much like Amazon.com does. Not only will the content providers know what you are watching, but they’ll know how long you are watching it, when you are watching it, how you choose to rate it, whether you chat during it, and then they can take that information to create personalized recommendations, for content and products. So, even though the ads will be select and shorter, they may be more effective.

I can’t imagine that Joost will be around for very long before the advertising starts to become imposing. Given that television is an established technology, and content will need to come from the traditional television networks, the technologies will likely share the space for a while to come.

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