Introducing Babelgum (Joost isn't the only game in town)

Babelgum logoBabelgum is a peer-to-peer online video service founded by Italian billionaire Silvio Scaglia, which like Joost (see our review), aims to combine the “lean-back experience” of television with the interactivity and social elements of the web. And while further comparisons are inevitable — the two programs have a similar minimalistic interface, and both are designed to run in full screen mode so as to deliver a television-like experience — Babelgum hasn’t generated nearly as much hype as Joost, and currently a closed beta, is a lot further behind in the development cycle.

It’s also possible that the two companies are aiming for a slightly different market. Where Joost has made much of its success in signing up big media partners including MTV, Comedy Central, CNN, Sony Pictures, and CBS; Babelgum’s website hints at a different strategy. By helping niche content find and connect with niche audiences, the company hopes to exploit the “Long Tail”.

Niche content – especially if it’s good – can find an audience that rivals or exceeds the mainstream TV audience in any local market.

Babelgum’s breakthrough technology means the content is easy for users to see in high-quality video streaming and there is usually no distribution cost to the content owner. So it is really an ideal platform for content owners to serve directly the Long Tail of viewers’ interests not addressed by today’s broadcasting television networks.

Currently Babelgum has a very limited amount of content (accessible to private beta testers, anyway) but already I can see evidence of a different approach. Most of the programming is independent, and notably their is a video blog channel with episodes of Rocketboom, for example. As peer-to-peer technology has the potential to really lower the barriers to ‘television’ distribution (despite the headaches it might cause ISPs), it’s great to see a company offering smaller producers access.

Babelgum channels

Content on Babelgum will be free to viewers (ad-supported), and producers who have signed up as part of the launch will be offered a minimum revenue guarantee of “$5 for each 1000 unique views of a clip.” Something which is bound to appeal to independents.

Aside from the content, Babelgum’s existing features include the ability to rate and bookmark clips, as well as create a playlist of channels. In the future, Babelgum will offer more social elements, such as “discover[ing] new content through friends, contacts and people with shared interests”, and promises that the service will “learn what you like” so that over time it “just gets better”.

Whether Babelgum can overcome Joost’s first-mover advantage and make a success of it’s niche content strategy — against a backdrop of big media competition — is yet to be seen. But either way, the peer-to-peer Internet TV space looks a lot more healthy with at least two competitors rather than just one.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

19 Responses to “Introducing Babelgum (Joost isn't the only game in town)”

  1. […] Source:last100 Babelgum is a peer-to-peer online video service founded by Italian billionaire Silvio Scaglia, which like Joost (see our review), aims to combine the “lean-back experience” of television with the interactivity and social elements of the web. And while further comparisons are inevitable — the two programs have a similar minimalistic interface, and both are designed […] Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  2. Sadly at the moment neither of these are going to replace my Media Center (part of Vista) experience for one simple reason…..
    They claim to be a “lean back” experience, but where’s the remote control.
    I can’t sit on the couch with a beer in one hand, a remote in the other and…. well, you get the drift.
    I also want to not have to rely on Comcast to give me CSI on-demand. If Joost is going to win it’s going to need some serious content partnerships and let me watch what I want, when I want (and while they’re at it partner with Netflix to combine the Instant Watch movie experience)…. I’d pay a subscription and happily dump Comcast Cable if I hd something simple enough for me, my wife and daughter to watch what we want when we want (ideally commercial free!)

  3. Steve O'Hear (editor) says:

    Joost on my Mac mini recognised the Apple Remote. So I expect any programmable remote could work with either service.

  4. Video Squad says:

    Competition is very healthy, feels likes Joost has the first mover advantage. Only time will tell who gets traction coming out of BETA and gets the love from users.

    They both have much more of a social video networking vibe rather than just being a video platform.

    Will be fun to see who comes out on top!

  5. Alan Abbey says:

    We like Joost a lot – that’s why we started JuicedonJoost.com about it, but we agree that it’s not perfect and not necessarily the answer to the “We hate cable” situation. For mass acceptance, quality, brand-name content must be presented in a simple-to-use fashion. My wife has struggled with the Joost interface (still not like a TV), and the download is spotty at best. It’s no fun watching a show in 2-3 second increments!

  6. […] Introducing Babelgum (Joost isn’t the only game in town) | last100: it’ll be interesting to see if the “lean back” experience will scale out independent of set-top boxes, or if they are going to be dependent on the set-top boxes. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]

  7. […] a P2P service too. It seems there focus is less on premium content, and more about niche markets: Post to: del.icio.usDiggNewsvineNowPublicRedditComments [0]Back to […]

  8. […] has covered both Joost and BabelGum recently. The last100 review of Babelgum explained that it is a new peer-to-peer online video service founded by Italian billionaire Silvio […]

  9. […] has covered both Joost and BabelGum recently. The last100 review of Babelgum explained that it is a new peer-to-peer online video service founded by Italian billionaire Silvio […]

  10. […] has covered both Joost and BabelGum recently. The last100 review of Babelgum explained that it is a new peer-to-peer online video service founded by Italian billionaire Silvio […]

  11. […] Babelgum’s content and general strategy, you might want to read this blog post from a reader of the original TechCrunch […]

  12. […] our previous coverage of Babelgum, we compared the service to Joost, with both products based on similar p2p technology and aiming to […]

  13. […] Our verdict: Whether Babelgum can overcome Joost’s first-mover advantage and make a success of it’s niche content strategy — against a backdrop of big media competition — is yet to be seen. But either way, the peer-to-peer Internet TV space looks a lot more healthy with at least two competitors rather than just one. […]

  14. […] Our verdict: Whether Babelgum can overcome Joost’s first-mover advantage and make a success of it’s niche content strategy — against a backdrop of big media competition — is yet to be seen. But either way, the peer-to-peer Internet TV space looks a lot more healthy with at least two competitors rather than just one. […]

  15. […] about whether the future of “full screen” Internet TV applications, such as Joost or Babelgum, reside on a PC or, instead, some sort of set-top-box which connects to a […]

  16. […] about whether the future of “full screen” Internet TV applications, such as Joost or Babelgum, reside on a PC or, instead, some sort of set-top-box which connects to a […]

  17. […] the catch-up service, NBC Direct, complemented by desktop Internet TV applications such Joost and Babelgum (again, both ad-supported), as well as video aggregators such as VeohTV. Perhaps recognizing this, […]

  18. […] TV platform Babelgum has always pitched itself as serving the interests of independent video producers who want to find and connect with niche […]

  19. […] that it competes more with Zattoo, as apposed to other Internet TV startups such as Joost or Babelgum, both of whom offer an on-demand experience. It’s also clear — based on very limited […]

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