Azureus announced today that it has opened up its online video distribution platform, Vuze (see our earlier review), offering content producers, big and small, the chance to distribute and monetize their content in a variety of ways including ad-supported streaming and download-to-own. The company also revealed that it has reached the milestone of 10 million unique downloads for its Mac and Windows-based client, with the company adding 2 million new “viewers” in September alone.
Dubbed the Vuze Open Entertainment Platform, content creators can mix and match from a variety of business models: free or ad-supported streaming and downloads, as well as paid-for rental and download-to-own. Additionally, producers can decide whether or not to employ Windows Media DRM, and Vuze soon hopes to be able to offer watermarking as an alternative.
In a phone briefing, Azureus CEO Gilles BianRosa told me that since we’re in the very early days of online video, the Vuze platform is designed to help content creators experiment with digital distribution and the various associated business models. For example, a producer might choose to offer a lower quality version of their program as a free download and charge for the HD-version.
Vuze’s PC-to-TV strategy
I asked BianRosa if, like a number of its competitors, the company had any plans to offer its service via a set-top-box, in order to make it easier to get Vuze content onto a television. BianRosa explained that there a number of reasons why doing so was not currently a priority.
Firstly, Vuze’s 18-34 male demographic are more than happy to watch long form content on a PC. The issue for them isn’t the PC, it’s picture quality — they wouldn’t want to watch a feature length film on YouTube via a PC, but at full-screen HD, it’s not a problem.
Another key factor is the different kind of user experience that can be delivered on a PC but not on a television, says BianRosa. It’s difficult to design a “10 foot User Interface” (TV) which makes it easy to browse and discover content from thousands of offerings, which is what you get if you offer an open marketplace for content. Instead, it makes more sense to offer a Netflix-like experience, whereby all the discovery is done on a “2 foot UI” (PC/Web) and only viewing is done on a television screen.
However, BianRosa did reveal that Azureus has had talks with set-top-box manufacturers who would like to put the Vuze service on their hardware, but that those companies are only talking about selling 50,000 boxes in the next 18 months, which amounts to roughly the number of users who download Vuze in day.
To that end, according BianRosa, it’s already possible to view a lot of Vuze content on a television using an XBox 360 or PS3, both of which have a much bigger install base than most set-top-boxes or other media extenders.