The founders of Skype have announced the “Joost” project/product. I have not yet had a chance to actually try the beta (windows only) version of Joost, but it apparently is an attempt to bring high quality television-type experience to the internet. (Playfuls has a great overview of the service).
Apparently, the content if “on-demand”, and not live-streamed. Unlike video services like YouTube and Google Video, Joost, at least for the time being, is not user-generated video. Instead it is content created by entertainment industry companies, like MTV.
One of the important (IMO) technological developments of Joost is that the content delivery uses a partial Peer to Peer system, somewhat similar to the way that Skype handles voice data. Initial reactions to the technology have been positive. This is an important, and disruptive development, because the emergence of high quality television distribution over the internet via services like Joost threatens the hegemony of existing television networks. How long will it be before the technology in Joost is duplicated, and released under more open standards? Consider this with along with the rapidly decreasing cost of Audio/Visual production, as documented in the P2P Foundation wiki by Valentin Spirik. And also consider the rapidly decreasing cost of bandwidth and storage for digital content. And, think about the fact that Apple and Microsoft are both working to make home “media severs”, that could easily serve Joost-type video content on a regular television. Barring any major Net Neutrality set backs in the US, within a 2-3 year time frame, there should be an emergence of both new Joost-type providers, and many new content channels.
Joost itself may try and bring on some of these developments. They are claiming that they want to incorporate user “interactive”, features, and possibly user-created content channels. Either way, Joost, by proving that the technology works, is both opening the door to further P2P video content distribution innovation, and perhaps also inadvertently throwing down a gauntlet against the telcos and cable providers, and traditional broadcast and cable networks in the US. We’ll have to wait and see how they’ll respond to this development.