Joost: The TV of the Future?

Joost LogoIf you tried to talk to me recently about a TV show, there's no doubt you heard the words, "What is TV?" or "TV is so last century." I've not had a TV for four and a half years, and I don't regret a minute of it. Sure there might be one or two decent shows on TV right now, but if I wanted to watch them, I'd do that on my own schedule.

The newest player in town is Joost, and thanks to a good friend, I have access to the much-sought-after system. From the founders of Skype comes this way to bring television into the world of the Internet. By all indications, this system will be going places fast.

So what does it do? You can stream TV-quality video to your computer if you have a decent broadband connection. You can choose any program at any time, so there's no schedule to be on. There are currently something like 50 channels, some of which have only a couple minutes of programming on them. Content from Viacom's Comedy Central and MTV channels take up a handful of channels, but there's nothing that I'd really want to watch. They don't have prime content like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report on there yet, most likely because they're getting a buck or two per viewer on iTunes.

The interface is nice, and it's going to bring it a long way. There are many widgets that you can overlay transparently on the top of the show you're watching, from a chat window with other watchers of the program to your RSS feeds or even your whole Google Chat interface. One that program or channel runs out of content, it will randomly pick something from your subscribed channels.

The Pretty Joost CrystalsThe future of advertising on this medium will be interesting. Right now the advertising is entirely a 10-second graphic where "This program is brought to you by" and then a logo of such things as T-Mobile, Eclipse gum, etc. However, it seems to me that since there's no way to skip through the program that channel owners could put ads right inside the program (maybe some do and I just haven't watched those yet). The other possibility is the ability to custom deliver ads to users. The system could display different ads to each user depending on their preferences and viewing habits. Their system could also keep perfect track of who has seen the ads and maybe track some responses, which everyone would like more than Nielsen ratings.

There's still a bunch of questions. Will it ever do live television or will I have to tune into another service to watch the Twins in the ALCS championships? And seriously, when will I get to watch the Daily Show or 24?


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