In the past week, rumours on the web suggested that the online video portal Joost was up for sale. The company itself of course said they do not comment on such rumours, while on their blog we can read how well the site is doing. But is it?
Hopes were high when Joost launched in 2007. Founded by the people once behind Kazaa and Skype, this was surely the way television distribution was to go. Even I believed the hype, which was carefully built. At first it was called the Venice Project and invitation-only, so a very exclusive service. Joost also promised to bring communities and social networking to the television experience.
Barely two years later, we know better. In hindsight, it is easy to see why Joost has so far failed. People didn’t like the fact they had to download a special client to see the things they want. Those who did found it difficult to find the content they wanted to see.
On top of that, even with over 60,000 programmes available, there wasn’t that much that people wanted to see. Although content owners were being paid, probably very few of them made any money to speak of. One of the content owners we spoke to said in a good quarter he would receive just a couple of hundred euros.
And then there were the ISPs, which weren’t at all happy with the amount of traffic the Joost P2P software was generating. So it wasn’t long before Joost gave up its proprietary client – and almost got it wrong again by offering a special browser plug-in before turning to Flash.
The big question now is – is Joost here to stay or will they fade away in history? Perhaps their biggest problem is the fact that expectations were so high they could never be met. And because of that, their critics have been even harsher than would have been the case with a less promising venture. Meanwhile, other initiatives are springing up, some with very strong content, making life very difficult for Joost.
Commenting on the recent rumours, CEO Mike Volpi remained optimistic when he wrote on the Joost blog: “In the afterglow of the hype of our early days, we’ve had our fair share of critics, but we’re encouraged every day by the amount of feedback emails, tweets, Facebook comments and more that we receive from our fans.”