Joost Gets Serious About Online Video Competition

    October 14, 2008
    Chris Crum

Today, Joost launched a new flash-based version of its popular (but not popular enough) online video service, which will allow users to use it without having to download an application. They announced over a month ago that they would be launching this, but it has just now finally come to fruition.

Clearly, Joost has taken notice to sites like Hulu (and even YouTube for that matter, who is beginning to show full-length television episodes) and decided that the only way to compete would be to drop the desktop client in favor of a browser-based platform that would provide far less hassle for users, and hopefully (for them) attract more of them to the service.

This was certainly a smart move on Joost’s part (although it probably would’ve been smarter to have made the move a long time ago), but still my first impression of the new and improved Joost is a bit on the unimpressed side. As I said last month, one of the reasons Joost has fallen behind in the first place is a lack of content, which shouldn’t really be an issue considering they have struck deals with CBS, Viacom, and even Major League Baseball. For some reason, these partnerships haven’t propelled Joost to the status of what such backing would suggest.

They claim to have over 46,000 professionally-produced videos coming in at 8,000 hours at this point, though browsing through it for a few minutes, I wasn’t able to find much that captured my interest. Provided these partnerships bear fruit, it should be enough to attract some eyeballs. Joost doesn’t have my favorite shows like Hulu does. But my favorite shows aren’t everybody’s favorite shows, so that’s neither here nor there. I guess at the very least, there is another viewing option for online video-seekers. Something else to watch.

Joost Screenshot

They go beyond simply watching videos though. The new Joost is implementing some social features in an effort to generate more interest from users. "People have always relied on their friends’ recommendations to figure out which movies they want to watch, or talked about their favorite TV shows and moments with friends and colleagues – and now Joost has combined those real-life experiences in one online destination," says Mike Volpi, CEO, Joost. "Our integrated social tools make it easier than ever for people to find the shows, film and music they want to watch, and to form communities around that content, which ultimately enriches their overall experience."

I’m not sure if this is going to be something that’s going to necessarily propel them to the top of the game either, but a little social never hurt anybody. It certainly won’t be bad for the site. Their social aspirations don’t stop internally though. They’re working with a number of third-party platforms, including Boxee, chumby, Delicious, Digg, FriendFeed, Lifestream, Meebo, Mister Wong, Netlog, Netvibes, reddit and VideoSurf, to "make it easier for people to use and access Joost across the web."

They can do all of the socializing they like, but if the content isn’t there, people wont’ use it. As long as they continue to build upon their content and are able to truly take advantage of their big-name partnerships, they will continue to have a chance to compete with Hulu, YouTube, and everybody else.