There are multiple reasons why I should like the company, Joost. I’ve been personally active in the online media space the past eight years, I enjoy the product Skype and my current business venture is largely driven by the aspiring success of IP video.
Yet, time and time again, I find myself cringing when I receive email updates from Joost inviting me to check out the product again. I spent a couple of times with their beta product last spring and despite their repeated efforts to have me return, I cannot.
Today’s latest email update was an example of what’s wrong with Joost: it’s the programming, stupid. It really makes no difference to me as an online consumer how cool the interactive features are or that your web product and newsletter have flashy colors and jpeg images. I, unlike others I work with admittedly, don’t even care much about the quality of the video. Ultimately, like so many other consumers, I care about the programming. So, when I saw today’s email newsletter inviting me to check out their hot, action sports catalog, I immediately thought, “no thanks, I’ll just watch the X-Games on ESPN tonight.” My disinterest was only compounded by the lame attempt at editorial wit in the form of this line: “warm up with some eye candy from the resorts, then turn up the heat with back country and off piste TPS reports (Tricks, Powder and Spills).” Nice attempt at getting some laughs fellas in the spirit of Office Space and the TPS reports joke. I was already having a case of the Moondays this morning before I got this email from you.
I’ve been watching the online video space for about 10 years now and have seen my shares of the highs, and mostly lows, from the likes of Intertainer, Movielink, CinemaNow, TotalVid, ManiaTV, Cflix and others. (BTW, what is Intertainer still doing with a web presence?!) Hidden tricks, simplified links to blog posts, RSS capabilities and more aren’t going to result in success, nor will Kung Fu programs or other long-tail programming. The key to successful monetization of video online will be free-to-air (FTA) models, namely advertising, and those models only work with a meaningful user base. Adventure sports and kung fu films, as much as I personally enjoy them, don’t drive hundreds of thousands of users repeatedly.
There are clearly some folks making noise these days with online video including Move Networks, ABC, Hulu and a few others. I’m personally excited and thankful for that on many levels. However, if Joost doesn’t start getting some legitimate programming on their network, whether via licensing or syndication approaches, and growing their user base quickly, I imagine they will soon be out of juice.
BTW, if you’re out there reading this and think I’m either a) spot on here or b) dead wrong here, I’d love to hear your perspectives on this (and/or the larger online video space.)