Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Internet TV: Joost - The New Online Television With Social Networking Built In

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If you're looking for a high quality Internet TV service with full-screen playback, a host of premium content, and social networking tools built right into the interface, Joost is just what you've been waiting for.


Brought to you by the people behind the hugely successful Skype and Kazaa platforms, Joost taps into similar peer-to-peer technologies to make distributing high-quality, full-screen video a piece of cake. With a half-decent broadband connection, every viewer effectively becomes a broadcaster and plays their part in the streaming of great looking video-on-demand content.

In addition to the ability to tune into great-looking video, Joost makes it easy for viewers to interact with one another as they watch content together. Because while Joost does an excellent job of replicating the experience of watching and navigating traditional cable TV, its ambitions do go a little further.

Using a simple interface that even your grandmother could figure out in a minute or so, Joost makes it easy to scan through the hundreds of programs worth of content from mainstream media stalwarts like MTV, down to small-scale independents. Then, if you want to engage with friends as you check that content out, you can add chat and instant messaging functionality into the mix and while you are watching the show.

Throw in an RSS news ticker, user ratings and the ability to send screenshots right to your blog, and you have the makings of a full Web 2.0 experience.

Joost - Overview


Joost is leading the way in the accelerating convergence of television and online video. Make no bones about it, Internet TV is moving out of the office and into our lounges, and during the coming months we will see this trend grow from strength to strength.

What makes Joost a contender, besides its eclectic mix of quality programming, is the fact that it effectively mirrors the experience of interacting with your TV, while blending in popular elements of the web. This is far from a geek-only platform, as simplicity and usability have clearly taken the front seat inside the Joost development team.

By default Joost opens in full-screen mode, and this is the way it was meant to be experienced. While the overall Joost video quality lags a bit behind DVD, and a good way off HD, it is nevertheless a giant leap forward from the world of YouTube and company. I'm sure that this is in no small part due to the effective implementation of peer-to-peer technology, as in all of the time I used Joost I didn't experience more than a second or two wait, and never once saw the irksome buffering that has long been a staple of the YouTube experience.

What you get, quite simply, is good-looking video-on-demand content that you can easily choose from a vast channel guide, or skip through with a cable TV like control interface. Layered on top of this you have a number of widgets that bring added, though non-essential, functionalities to the experience.

The Joost Interface


Once logged inside Joost, in standard full-screen mode you will see nothing but the current video until you jog your mouse, at which point a number of simple options reveals itself to you.

In the bottom-center of the screen you have a control panel of sorts, which allows you to play and pause the current show, skip to the previous or next show, change the volume or switch to a windowed-view.


From here you can also call up the channel guide, check out what's on next, or what was playing previously, quit the application, run a keyword search, edit your user profile and even open up help files. The interface of the controller is intuitive, and icon-driven, with descriptions of the function for each button appearing as you roll over with the mouse.

At the top of the screen you can open up information about the channel you are watching. On the left is an icon to bring up your personalized channel list, which you can customize by adding in items from the Joost Channel Catalog. Finally, over on the right is an icon that will open up the various widget options available, and this is where you will find the social functions included in the platform.

Entering the windowed mode gives you a fully resizeable display with a more pared down set of controls, including volume, play / pause, skip forward and return to full-screen buttons:


Many of the shows feature extra interactive content that can be optionally activated. You can also turn on a brief TV-guide-like description of what you are watching, which can also be viewed before making your initial decision. This is useful if you get down to some serious channel surfing, as you very quickly get an idea of the content on offer.

Where with video-on-demand in the YouTube tradition it sometimes pays to take pot-luck with a video, and see how it turns out, the longer form, more TV-like content of Joost benefits greatly from adding this extra information. The difference between committing thirty minutes of your time rather than two or three is a significant one, so this feature is well received.


Left to its own devices, Joost will continue playing content from your currently selected channel until you stop it from doing so, which effectively gives you a TV-like constant flow of programming. However, as each channel is arranged into video-on-demand playlists, it is quite possible to skip straight to the content that interests you the most.

You do this by calling up the current channel guide, and selecting the video you are interested in watching. Each video has both a thumbnail image, title and complementary information about each episode.


Shows begin after no more than a couple of seconds of load time, generally have a brief sponsorship spot at the beginning, with some shows containing ads as you watch and others having only ads between an episode and the next. This is, of course, how Joost funds the enterprise. The sponsorship spots are short and cut straight to the point as compared to their televisual counterparts, although I did find myself wishing for a slightly better transition between show and commercial, as at present the jump from one to the other can be a little jarring and unexpected.



Besides the individual channel guides and your personal list of channels, Joost also has a useful full-screen channel catalog, which you can browse by keyword search or category. The range of offerings is already impressive, with a minimum of five channels per category and in many cases several more. The categories featured are:

  • Cartoon and animation
  • Comedy
  • Documentary
  • Entertainment
  • Lifestyle
  • Music
  • Music Entertainment
  • Sports and Games

Furthermore the catalog displays featured channels, and has listings for 'staff picks', most popular channels and new channels, so it is very easy to find something to suit your tastes.

The quality of the content does vary, and not just in terms of production budget. A lot of the stuff I enjoyed was from smaller video publishers like Channel Frederator, and I did get the sense that larger players like MTV were holding back on the content delivered.

Nevertheless, with a bit of poking around there is plenty worth watching, and I think that the offerings will expand significantly as the platform goes into public release, both in terms of independent channels and larger content suppliers.

Widgets And Community - My Joost


One of the key features that sets Joost apart from regular television is the inclusion of a set of optional widgets. While these are in no way essential to the viewing experience, they do add a social dimension to proceedings, in addition to bringing in other functions, such as the ability to read a customized news ticker as you watch your show.

Clicking on the 'My Joost' icon from the main interface brings up the list pictured above, which lets you select and activate as many or few of the available widgets as you deem necessary. The widgets range from a simple clock that you can position anywhere on-screen - useful for keeping an eye on the time in full-screen mode, as hours of your life disappear into Joost - right through to social networking features such as GTalk / Jabber compatible Instant Messaging, and show-related chat rooms. It would be nice to see Meebo-like support for other IM platforms built in at a later date.


For the multi-taskers and news-hounds among you, the RSS news ticker will doubtless be of interest, in that it gives you the chance to make sure you are abreast of the very latest news from your RSS resources, even as you are watching a show in full-screen.

You can configure this to display news feeds from any sources you'd care to enter, and if you click through on a post-title from the news ticker, Joost automatically resizes to windowed mode, allowing you to take a look at your news website while the action continues. This is well thought through and executed.


Further to that, you can invite friends to come and check out content you are enjoying direct from the interface, read the latest Joost information via a bulletin board, give a show a one to five star rating and several other features that enhance the Joost viewing experience without overpowering it.

I'm looking forward to seeing how these widgets develop over time.

System Requirements

Joost currently runs on Windows and recent Mac models, but you should also note that it can take up some serious bandwidth. If you are on a bandwidth-capped Internet account, you might want to be careful about how much Joost you watch.

Windows requirements

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 with DirectX 9.0c
  • Pentium 4 processor, 1GHz
  • 512Mb or more RAM
  • A modern video card with DirectX support and at least 32Mb of VRAM

Mac requirements

  • Any Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.4
  • 512Mb or more RAM

General requirements

  • About 500 MB free disk space. The Joost software is a 15 MB download, expanding to 35-40 MB on disk. The remainder is used as a cache.
  • Broadband/ADSL (1Mbit/s downstream, 512Kbit/s upstream recommended, although lower speeds may well work)
  • In 1 hour of viewing, 320 Mb will be downloaded and 105 Mb uploaded, which means that a 1 Gb cap will be exhausted in about 10 hours

Need an Invitation?

At the time of writing the only way that you can get into Joost is by being invited by another user. If you haven't already been invited, and want to give it a try, leave your email address in the comments section and we will make sure that you get an invitation as soon as possible.

If you don't like the idea of publishing your contact details, think about using a temporary, disposable email address like those supplied by Mailinator or MailExpire.


Joost is a big step forward for the constantly evolving Internet TV genre. Deftly fusing content from mainstream media producers and smaller-scale independents; bringing together a rich, TV-like experience and the community aspects so important to the web; and upping the overall quality of streaming video, Joost is a good indication of the way things are going.

As more and more people use their computers as entertainment centers, or stream content over to their TVs, we are going to be seeing more services like Joost evolve over time - hybrid services that bridge the gap between our experience of the web, and of Cable TV, TiVo and DVD technologies. Joost does an excellent job of leading the way.

The interface is easy to use, and while it is capable of being customized quite extensively to the tastes of a particular viewer, the hordes of extra features are not essential to get up and running. Anyone that has have ever navigated their way through a DVD menu or cable TV channel guide is going to be instantly at home with Joost, which should broaden its overall market penetration.

While the platform isn't focused around user generated content, as is YouTube, it certainly looks like there is going to be space within the network for smaller-scale independent operations to get their work distributed. Already Joost offers a good blend of mainstream staples, such as MTV, with edgier more home-grown micro-producers. This could be a very big opportunity for those looking to make their mark in the pioneering days of web / TV convergence.

Overall Joost provides a well-designed, well-delivered platform with an already impressively eclectic range of programming. As the platform grows further I can see it entering a lot of homes over a short space of time.

While it might not quite yet be time to cancel your cable subscription, you might not be waiting too long before that seems like a wise move. Watch this space.

Additional Resources

If you'd like to learn more about Joost, you might want to check out the following links:

Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Internet TV: Joost - The New Online Television With Social Networking Built In

[ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2009-08-10 07:44:42

Robin Good

Hi Tony, Joost is now fully open to the public. You do not need a special invitation anymore!

2009-08-10 07:39:29

Tony Snodgrass

I would also like an invitation for Joost.

2007-09-02 05:37:03

Robin Good

Hi guys, unfortunately we are not giving out invites anymore.


2007-09-02 03:03:13


I will the BETA. It's the future.

2007-08-01 06:05:09


Are you still giving invites? I would be eternally grateful.

2007-07-20 14:09:29


I've really appreciated Skype, and trust that this will be developed along similarly reasonable lines. I would like to be invited, if you please.

2007-07-16 23:11:40


Hi! I would really appreciate it if you could send me an invitation. Great article, can't wait to try it on. Thanks a lot.

2007-07-16 08:47:53


I would love an invitation if possible

2007-07-01 20:46:51

John White

Hi, I would really appreciate receiving a Joost invitation. Thanks

2007-06-28 18:39:45


I would also like an invitation for Joost.

2007-06-16 12:31:07


can some one please invite me

2007-06-16 12:15:54


can some one invite me too ;-)


2007-06-13 17:11:27


Hiho, i would appreciate if you would send me an invitation. Thx a lot.

2007-06-13 00:03:39


wann to try this newly build intenet tv

2007-06-09 12:05:33


hey should be great if you could invite me to use joost!!!


2007-06-06 10:04:31


I would love to try joost. please send me an invite

2007-06-05 12:55:17


If you could invite me i'd appreciate this. Thanks (diabolick4ever (at) gmail (&dot&) come

2007-06-02 14:29:37


Could you please send me an invitation.

2007-05-31 10:53:16

Don Lucas

great preview article! i'd appreciate an invite to try it out... thanks!!!

2007-05-31 07:23:00


Please send me an invite

2007-05-30 16:50:38


Can you send me an invite too?

2007-05-30 10:57:00


please send me an invite! thanks!

2007-05-30 03:28:08


Could you please send me an invitation. Thanks.

2007-05-29 18:34:33


Please send me an invite.

2007-05-29 18:33:39

Dave Anderson

Great article. Please send me a Joost invitation.

2007-05-29 17:57:38

Michael Pick


Just to let you know that I have sent out all of the invites to date, so don't hesitate to let me know if you didn't get yours.



2007-05-29 17:37:10

Paula Neal Mooney




2007-05-29 17:16:45


I too would like an invitation.

2007-05-29 08:20:14


I would like to receive a Joost invitation

posted by Michael Pick on Tuesday, May 29 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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