Joost: friend or foe to traditional interests?

17 07 2007

It falls to Canada’s Globe and Mail to produce one of the more insightful pieces I’ve read about Joost in recent months. The main thrust is that Joost’s success is in offering traditional broadcasters and content owners (ie the ones with most stuff people want to [sometimes pay to] see) is that they are prepared to offer the kind of licensing terms and content security which is palatable to the aforementioned.

Although the piece is very enthusiastic about features such as geo-IP restriction (you can’t watch it unless you’re in a territory where the provider has license to make the content available), this is a basic must-have for any of these services.

So what drew my eye? A couple of quotes. First Stacey Seltzer of Joost’s acknowledgement that: “television is the greatest medium for mass communication that there’s ever been, [so] let’s start with that experience and then bring all the cool aspects of the Web to it.” Obvious, perhaps, but a basic fact many incumbents overlook: TV is the pre-eminent medium, certain audiences (the younger) are shunning it. But one step at a time for TV people (and the rest of the people they serve who don’t happen to be young); these businesses continue to enjoy a very healthy linear bottom-line with another eye on ‘the future’.

Liz Gannes, who writes about online media for the blog NewTeeVee.com, also has it spot on by saying Joost is in “a really nice position right now, because they are seen as someone that is respectful [of content owners’ rights] and so they have a leg up on competitors.” Know your market and which stage of the evolutionary cycle it’s at. A basic rule forgotten by Silicon Valley start-ups with hard-ons induced by latest VC injections (the V could as much stand for Viagra as venture).

Joost is awfully good at cosying up with the stalwarts of the traditional content industry by: A) appearing to know their business – or at least acknowledge its role; B) speak a language execs in the industry will recognise; C) be prepared to play the longer game for bigger stakes. The Viacom deal was merely opportunism (rightly capitalised on) in the immediate fallout of the latter’s decision to instruct YouTube to take the former’s content down, but these guys are serious about creating a service which is driven by major brands (and have intellectualised a little beyond the mere concept).

Joost also understands about content owners wanting integrity over the experience, albeit within a landscape which disintermediates them.

So far (from an industry perspective)… Joost 9/10 for its approach. Others 1-3/10 for theirs.

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One response

18 07 2007
phoneranger

Joost is indeed playing a long game. And seemingly more conventional than Veoh or even YouTube/Google. However there are serious risks for the big media companies in the Joost model. After all the viewer ultimately belongs to Joost not CBS or Viacom. The viewer can easily flick the Joost channel to another content provider. That competitor may have paid Joost for promotion. Most certainly the production costs of a one-off media company will be lower than CBS’. If you follow the controversies here in the US between cable opertators and local broadcasters you’ll get a flavor for what’s in store. A media company that doesn’t control its distribution doesn’t control its destiny.

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