Joost (last100 review) is planning to let viewers access its Internet TV service via a Web browser, rather than requiring them to download and install the current Mac/Windows application, according to Portfolio.com.
This year, viewers will be able to watch Joost videos in a browser window. Go to Joost’s website, click on shows like Seth Green’s edgy Robot Chicken or an old Rocky and Bullwinkle episode and you can watch them as easily as you’d watch a video on YouTube. Previously, all Joost users had to download and install special software.
Though no specific launch date is mentioned (Joost has a track record of stating that it has plans to be everything to everybody), the move to a browser based offering is interesting on a number of fronts.
Firstly, it would signal an admission that Joost’s strategy to build its service around the kind of “lean back” experience that it hoped to deliver via a full screen desktop application has largely failed. The company repeatedly described Joost as combining the best of TV with the best of the Internet, something that is difficult to do when your starting position is outside the browser. In contrast, YouTube was in part successful because it allowed its content to live anywhere on the Web via video embeds, and with no application to install (aside from a standard Web browser and the near ubiquitous Flash player) the barriers to access are near zero. As a result YouTube content (and the service itself) has taken on a viral life of its own.
Secondly, when Joost launched early last year the idea of an Internet TV platform that would be ad-supported (free) and feature professionally-produced content from traditional television networks was a fairly novel proposition. We even went as far as calling the service “cable television without the need for a set-top-box.” However, throughout the rest of 2007 (see our Year in review) and continuing today, the Internet TV landscape changed dramatically. There are now a plethora of companies serving a similar mission to Joost, including big hitter Hulu, the NBC/Fox joint venture.
The Portfolio article also makes mention of Joost’s experiment with “live” programing beginning with the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament this spring (see our earlier coverage). “Live TV will be a milestone for us,” Joost CEO Mike Volpi tells Portfolio.
(via Silicon Alley Insider)