The other day managed to get hold of an invite to the IPTV service Joost, that is currently in Beta (and we all know what that means). First off, I have no invites, so don’t ask; okay. Update – I do have a few invites (900+) in reality I think Joost maybe open to the public soon anyway, however you can still email me for an invite (if you want the invite you find my contact).
You connect up to Joost via a downloaded purpose build desktop application. It launches you into the Channel Selector and straight into the programs that are available. The interface is very simple are easy to use with either a mouse or keyboard.
Besides the various channels and ways of customising the programming for your own use, there are also widgets that you can active as an overlay on top of the program being viewed. The widgets include items such as a clock, an Internet Messenger (using jabber or gmail), local chat room, rating scorer, news board and tickler and a few more. These may seem a little boring at first, but consider you can now twitter from within Joost. I’m sure there will be more widgets to come in the future, as this aspect brings an element of social networking, apt a minor one in the on-demand TV world.
The visual quality of the content is not high definition, but it up scales well and present very nicely when displayed on a high definition plasma or large LCD screen.
The content of programming it not all to my taste, but still I found at least 40 hours of viewing on the various stations that I’m going to have a look at. I can see a great potential for this type of TV delivery if the content is improved. My one complaint is the licensing has meant that Joost programming is segmented into three regions: US, EU and the rest of the world. Well I’m in the latter, which is a shame as there are whole channels that I can see and be teased with but can’t access.
Yes there are adverts. Some are short; others are of a standard length. You are not, at present, subjected the endless adverts as you would expect. You are lucky if you have one advert in the middle of a program; and for a free service I can deal with that.
The Local TV Scene
I’ll explain my TV viewing habits so you have an idea where I’m coming from.
Now I don’t normally have access to Foxtel (local pay-TV), the programming just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s all mostly repeats, and frankly the cost is too high for the quality that you get. I watch a little Free to ai, mayeb 5 hours a week and rest is with DVDs.
Free to air TV in Australia is a little better than your average (compared to US free to air), being selective of the best (and sometimes worst) from the US, UK and European programming.
However these programs are usually a good 6 to 24 months behind their initial screening. This has started to change over the last few years as the free to air TV networks seem to realise that a percentage of people are viewing programs via torrent feed or on copies sourced from friends and associates. This is good, as there is no reason why we have to wait a year or so for a TV series to be aired in Australia.
I have also noticed there has been less creative editing of late. You know what I mean, when up to ten minutes of a program is sliced for advert, usuallyon scene changes or off the sides of the advert spaces.
Is this again a policy decision by the program managers that has been influenced by the fact that people can now source their favourite TV programs elsewhere.
On-Demand IPTV Now!
Looking at Joost, there is one thing I really like about the concept; it’s IPTV on-demand. When I want it. No more working out what to watch when, no more programming a PVR, or training it to select the program types and themes I like.
The concept is not new; you can rent a movie online and (with the associated DRM) download or watch a streaming version. The usual on-demand viewing is like your own DVD library; you watch it when you want to. You control your lifestyle not the TV programmers. I can imagine that this type of service has the traditional TV executives either burying their heads in the sand or quivering in their soft leather shoes.
Are these new trends in people’s viewing habits and new services like Joost going to change the age of television? Is TV as we know it about to start to morph into something else; a more interactive on-demand service? Should TV executives be scared? I hope so.