8 Internet TV apps in 8 weeks

8 Internet TV apps in 8 weeks | last100Since we launched last100, just over eight weeks ago, I’ve been obsessively trying out every Internet TV application that I can get my hands on. To assist some of our newer readers, here’s a quick recap of the Internet TV apps we’ve profiled so far.

Note: Many of the following applications offer very different features and solve different problems. This post isn’t designed to be a product comparison — because it would be like comparing apples with oranges — but instead serves as an overview of some of our coverage to-date.

Joost

Platform: Windows / Intel Mac
Status: Invite-only Beta

JoostFrom the founders of Skype and Kazaa, Joost is an on-demand video service that utilizes P2P technology to deliver a TV-like experience on a PC. In this respect, think of it as cable television without the need for a set-top-box. Additional functionality is provided through a number of built-in applications (called ‘widgets’) which include a channel-based chat room, an IM client (currently GTalk and Jabber only), and an RSS-based news ticker. In terms of content, big names signed up include: MTV, Comedy Central, CNN, Sony Pictures television, CBS, and National Geographic.

Our verdict: Joost is an impressive entry into the world of Internet TV. Its peer-to-peer technology not only lowers the cost of distribution for content owners, but also does it in a way that appears to solve the piracy problem. That said, picture quality could be better, and the license restrictions on content seriously impedes users who reside outside of the US.

Babelgum

Platform: Windows
Status: Invite-only Beta (we have invites)

Babelgum Internet TVBabelgum is a peer-to-peer online video service founded by Italian billionaire Silvio Scaglia, which like Joost, aims to combine the “lean-back experience” of television with the interactivity and social elements of the web. Babelgum doesn’t yet have the mainstream content deals that Joost boasts, and instead the company’s strategy seems to be more about helping niche content find and connect with niche audiences, so as to exploit the “Long Tail”. Babelgum’s additional features include the ability to rate and bookmark clips, as well as create a playlist of channels.

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.

RealPlayer 11

Platform: Windows
Status: Public Beta

RealPlayer11The new version of RealPlayer combines media player and jukebox and CD burning functionality (similar to iTunes), with a new flagship feature: the ability to download videos from the web. With RealPlayer 11 installed, when you visit a website with embedded video (Real, Flash, QuickTime or Windows Media), a floating tab appears giving you the option to download the file or ‘record’ it in the case of a live stream. Once you click ‘download this video’ a copy is then placed into your RealPlayer library. The feature only works with web videos that don’t utilize DRM.

Platform: Windows
Status: Public Beta

Our verdict: While it will be hard for RealPlayer to shake off its poor reputation, there’s much to like about version 11. The new interface and jukebox functionality has been appropriately borrowed from iTunes, and the ability to download and save videos from the web, not only works well, but should prove popular with users who want to build their own personal video collection.

Vuze

Platform: Windows (required to playback paid-for content) / Mac
Status: Full public release

VuzeVuze is an application that enables users to search, browse, and download ‘near DVD’ and HD quality video content, using the peer-to-peer protocol, BitTorrent. In particular the company is pitching the platform as a way for independent video and film producers to distribute their content to millions of users — at no cost — and with a higher picture quality than other competing services. In addition to being an open platform where anybody can publish their content, Vuze has signed licensing deals with a number of larger players, such as the BBC, A&E, and Showtime, who are offering paid-for content: rental and to-own.

Although Vuse can function as a video library, rather oddly, the application doesn’t have its own media player. That’s because Vuze is format agnostic, so content producers are free to upload their video in any number of formats, meaning it’s simpler to let playback be handled outside of the application (using QuickTime or Windows Media Player, for example).

Our verdict: Vuze will appeal to independent producers who want to distribute their content at zero-cost and up-to HD-quality. While the option to charge for content is only currently available to those who’ve signed formal licensing deals, an upcoming version of the software will enable all content creators to set their own prices, select a business model (rental, to-own or ad supported), manage territories, and choose whether to use DRM.

VeohTV

Platform: Windows
Status: Invite-only Beta

VeohTVVeohTV is pitching itself as a more ‘open’ alternative to the likes of Joost or Babelgum. Rather than being restricted to formal licensing agreements, VeohTV pulls in videos from thousands of sources — which currently includes NBC, CBS, FOX, YouTube, MySpace, and Veoh’s own video-sharing site — with content browsable via a cable TV-style program guide. In addition, VeohTV enables you to download and save almost any DRM-free online video to your library (similar to the way RealPlayer 11 works).

Our verdict: VeohTV represents a bold attempt to create a simple video player/aggregator for any type of online video, and for that reason we really wanted to like the application. But in reality this is also why it falls short. Inconsistent picture quality and download times — although not the fault of Veoh — results in a confusing viewing experience, and in attempting to make subscribing to and managing video podcasts seamless with watching other types of online video, VeohTV actually makes the process more complicated. Having said that, many of these issues could be addressed through a few simple interface tweaks, so don’t write off VeohTV just yet.

Zattoo

Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux
Status: Beta (limited to a few European countries)

Zattoo - live TV on your PCZattoo is an Internet TV service which, like Joost and Babelgum, utilizes peer-to-peer technology to deliver streaming video to a PC. However, Zattoo isn’t an on-demand affair, and instead offers live streaming of existing ‘over-the-air’ and cable TV channels. And rather than attempting to re-create the lean-back experience of traditional television, the service is more at home used in a multi-tasking environment, where users watch television in one window on their computer, while accomplishing other tasks in another, such as chatting to friends over IM, surfing the web or writing email.

Our verdict: We really liked Zattoo for its simplicity, near-zero buffering, and good picture quality. The only downside is the limited number of channels (which should increase), and the fact that it’s only currently available in Spain and Denmark, with the UK.

LiveStation

Platform: Windows
Status: Private Beta

LiveStation, p2p video live TV

Similar to Zattoo, LiveStation utilizes peer-to-peer technology to deliverer live TV to a user’s PC. The software has been developed by UK startup, Skinkers, and is in-part based on technology licensed from Microsoft Research (who get a small amount of equity in return). Of note, the front-end for LiveStation is powered by Microsoft’s newly launched Flash-competitor, Silverlight.

Our verdict: As it stands, LiveStation is more a proof-of-concept, with only one channel being available during its closed-testing phase (BBC News24). However, like Zattto, there’s near-zero buffering time, and picture quality is good.

Jalipo

Platform: Windows / Mac
Status: Full public release

JalipoJalipo is a web-based Internet TV service which offers on-demand (TV shows and movies) and live broadcasts on a minute by minute “pay as you go” basis. Jalipo content — most of which we were unfamiliar with — is viewed in exchange for J:Credits, the company’s own online currency.

Our verdict: We’re not convinced that a minute-by-minute credit system is the right way to sell online video. If the content is worth watching, it’s probably worth watching till the end, and should be sold as a complete offering. Jalipo’s video quality is good (at the higher and more expensive bit-rate), though compelling content seems lacking.

Miro

Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux
Status: Public preview

Miro Internet TV application (formally known as Democracy Player)Miro (formerly known as Democracy Player) is an open-source Internet TV application that combines a media player and library, content guide, video search engine, as well as podcast and BitTorrent clients. Developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation, Miro aims to make online video “as easy as watching TV”, while at the same time ensuring that the new medium remains accessible to everyone, through its support for open standards.

Our verdict: Miro is quite possibly the best video “podcast” client and player out there. Its multi-format support, coupled with a very well thought out user interface, extensive content directory, and support for a number of popular video sharing sites, makes it a formidable Internet TV application. The only major drawback is the lack of support for the iPod or AppleTV, both of which would be a natural fit.

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.

32 Responses to “8 Internet TV apps in 8 weeks”

  1. Andreas says:

    Another interesting site is http://www.chime.tv...

  2. James W. says:

    The only problem with Bablegum is the fact that it’s got almost nothing interesting to watch. I’ve scanned all of the channels available and it’s mostly Euro-centric media and is relatively uninteresting. I understand they’re working on niche markets first but in order for that to work, they need to have interesting niche market content. The UI of the player could also use some serious work. I like the “less is more” aspect however, the controls leave a lot to be desired.

    The main problem I have with all of these outfits, except for Zattoo and Miro, is the lack of Linux support. Out of all of them I would at least expect Joost to have a Linux-based client given Skype’s widespread adoption on Linux platforms.

  3. David Mackey says:

    Thanks for the summary. I was familiar with most of these providers – but not with Vuze, which looks worth a second glance.

  4. Ryan says:

    Great list! This is just like the things you find at ListAfterList.com

    It is a great place for YOU to find and create lists about anything and everything.

    If you want to add your favorite internet TV app to the list of current faves, go here.

  5. Morgo says:

    How is RealPlayer considered a TV app? It’s just a media player, and a really bad one at that (too many adverts). And then theirs the sites

    http://www.freetube.us.tc
    http://www.tv-links.co.uk
    http://www.chooseandclick.com
    http://internettvlist.com
    http://www.beelinetv.com

  6. You guys should test out http://www.channelking.com and review it :)

  7. gunnard says:

    http://www.dontwatchme.com lists shoutcast tv stations and current tv torrents updated daily

  8. Mark Dobbie says:

    Zattoo: Also available on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor Campus.

    It really is great and for a while they were offereing ESPN, FoodTV, and HBO 2, in addition to a few University produced stations.

  9. nard says:

    JumpTV.com has been there for awhile, but they have mainly been involved in the international TV stuff. recently though, they have started to shift towards an ad-supported model for the US, and they have quite alot of stuff available at the moment for free to US people, like Aljazeera English. their recent acquisition of Xos looks to be pretty promising too in terms of sports content

  10. Chris says:

    I ditched my cable a few months ago and have had no regrets. Here’s a list of my 12 favorite online options.

  11. Thank you for publishing this article. I think Apple can learn a thing or two from these applications and improve upon the Apple TV.

    I have blogged about this article on my site at:

    http://appletvsource.com/content/view/281/

    Thanks again.

  12. Lana Turner says:

    ChannelKing is crap, there’s nothing to review besides a 2nd rate site designed to profit off of some stolen video streams. You’re site is just another site amongst the rubble of garbarge made-for-profit spam out on the Internet. It’s sad that you even consider your site Internet TV which it most certainly is not. Get a real job, and quit your crappy sites.

  13. flora says:

    Zattoo has good quality, and also has good presence in Switzerland 30+ channels with Swiss , German, French and British channels as well as CNN. Unfortunately I have had problems with saturation of their bandwidth. I.e. during popular TV shows I get messages saying that there are too many people connected.

  14. Charles says:

    You are missing the BBC’s iPlayer, which launches today. Only for BBC content, but they do have the largest archives of any media organisation in the world.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6913297.stm

  15. Steve O'Hear (editor) says:

    @Charles

    As the iPlayer only comes out tomorrow, we haven’t had a chance to get our hands on it yet (we tried to get in on the Beta). But, rest assured, we’ll have a review a.s.a.p.

  16. Matt says:

    Unfortunately iPLayer from the BBC doesn’t supprt Vista – how short sighted

  17. Sandie says:

    Try to this website to watch free TV and listen free radio :

    http://www.tvonline.2ya.com

    On “TV” for MTV, MCM, ESPN, Eurosport, CNN, ABC, BBC, NBC, NASA TV, Animal planet, Nationnal geographic, Cyber comic, LOL TV … by categories.

    On “CLIP” to watch and listen your best video clip.

    Or “RADIO” to select among 200 FM radio by country and states.

    @ **

  18. Nick says:

    Here is another internet tv app
    http://www.tvunetworks.com/

  19. David Spark says:

    Thanks for the list. I hadn’t heard of four of them. I have a nice companion follow up that’s about where to catch TV and movies you want to watch. Tons of video sharing sites out there. Who’s got the most sought after content?

  20. Randy Handy says:

    Concerning iPlayer and Windows Vista:

    “A condition of approval from the corporation’s governing body, the BBC Trust was that “platform neutrality be achieved as soon as possible” with reviews every six months”.

    A version for Mac OS X could be available in autumn, with versions for Windows Vista and mobile devices to follow, the BBC has said in the article link provided.

  21. checkout upcoming tv hiphop music video site http://wu-tv.com

  22. djscatty says:

    hi, can u add mtv2 to the list of channels for the uk please

  23. jim0bob says:

    Don’t bother with the software you can get most of the content these programs offer direct from the web.

    Try http://www.abc.com

    or http://www.watchonbroadband.com

  24. bry says:

    Hey this is a really cool review of so many sites. Didn’t know there were so many out there! http://www.fantasy-tv.com is a great free online one to watch.

  25. dwb says:

    Great reviews, however, I was hoping to find comments on actual Internet TV applications – something to take all the content thats out there and schedule it for playout to produce the ‘sit back and watch’ experience we all want.

    The only thing I’ve found that looks interesting is http://www.ji-tu.tv who seem to be about to release a system that will do just that.

    Will watch them closely.

    Any more out there that will do this for me?

  26. smashing says:

    @dwb…

    We set out to build a useful and friendly application that doesn’t require downloading and which will let people create, manage and watch a wide range of Internet video content. So far, more than 10,000 people in 136 countries have created channels featuring selections of their favourite videos.

    The service is available in 6 languages and you can use it in lots of different ways. A cool Flash map of the World lets you click and zoom on different countries and see top 40 lists of channels from people in those places. You can also search, manage and curate your own personal collection of favourite videos, and share them with others.

    WorldTV – Design Your Own TV | http://worldtv.com

  27. Frederika says:

    Check out this website if you like to watch TV online for free
    http://www.tvweb360.com

  28. Bob says:

    This is the best website for watching UK TV, listening to UK radio and accessing UK newspapers – and it’s FREE !!! http://www.easyonlinetv.com

  29. Morgo says:

    How is RealPlayer considered a TV app? It's just a media player, and a really bad one at that (too many adverts). And then theirs the sites

    http://www.freetube.us.tc
    http://www.tv-links.co.uk
    http://www.chooseandclick.com
    http://internettvlist.com
    http://www.beelinetv.com