ABC.com launches HD streaming video

29 07 2007

abc1.png 

US network ABC rolled out the Beta of its high-definition online video streaming service last Tuesday, offering four episodes from a selection of its most popular prime time shows. Each episode features pre-roll, non-skippable commercials.

A minimum connection speed of 2 megabits per second is needed, as well as a downloadable player provided by Move Networks ; though access is geo-IP restricted to those in the U.S.

The Beta launch of the ABC HD channel follows the announcement of the service last May, with the offer to be beefed up in September.

ABC.com has more than doubled its user base during the last year, with ComScore Media Metrix reporting 14.6 million unique viewers in May 2007.





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.