Joost, once the darling of the burgeoning online video market, could be about to evolve into something altogether less exciting. There are reports that the company is shopping itself around to cable companies as being a possible ready-made online video solution.
An Exciting Launch
Joost launched in beta form (as The Venice Project) in 2006, and soon became one of the most-wanted apps by anyone interested in online video. One million people signed up to use the service within a year and then it finally launched at the end of 2007.
I remember those heady days when the invites to try out Joost were like gold-dust. Having finally got one, I tried the service out, was impressed with it, but had to stop using it due to it slowing down my computer a great deal. If there had been more quality programming available then maybe I would have persevered, but there wasn’t, so I got rid of the desktop app pretty quickly.
By the summer of 2008, Joost had lost most of its sparkle. It wasn’t really being spoken about, there was no buzz surrounding it, and people just seemed to have stopped caring. This was partly due to the delivery method (proprietary P2P via a desktop client) being seen as overrated and unnecessary. Again, the programming didn’t help.
September 2008 brought rumors of a new Web-based content delivery system replacing the desktop client entirely. This was completely down to the success of similar methods employed by Hulu and the BBC iPlayer. Strangely, the latter has now reverted to a desktop client for PC users, although P2P has been replaced with Adobe AIR.
Web-based, Still Sucks
Joost went ahead with the switch to a Web-based delivery system, along with the launching of other new features. But it all felt like being too little, too late. Hulu had, by then, grabbed a huge slice of the American Web viewing audience thanks to premium, up-to-date programming. Joost just couldn’t compete.
There were questions at the time as to whether Joost could survive. It has done, until now, and in fact co-founder Mike Volpi recently wrote a triumphant blog post explaining that traffic is up and the future looks bright. But there is another possibility.
Looking To Sell?
CNET claims a source as revealing that Joost is currently shopping itself out to potential buyers. The company is pitching the service to cable and satellite television companies as being a possible ready-made online video solution for their move from old media to new media. Time Warner Cable is mentioned as being a possible buyer.
Both companies have so far declined to comment on the article, but it would seem there is no smoke without fire. The fact is that while Joost’s traffic isn’t all that, it does have a framework in place to provide a media company with a fast and easy route into online video. Whether any are brave enough to pay the asking price and attempt to take on the likes of Hulu remains to be seen.
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