Netflix and Joost: PC but No TV

NetflixThere’s lots of buzz about Netflix offering movie downloads (only to your Windows PC, not Mac or TV) and Joost (formerly “The Venice Project”), coming to you from Skype’s founders. Both are about TV/movie content on your PC — not your TV (yet).

Netflix needed to do this to compete with a range of services that are already in the “movie download” space (and most recently AppleTV). But not getting the content onto TV is a major (read: MAJOR) drawback. Ultimately Netflix will find a way (perhaps a version of the SlingCatcher?) to get movies onto your TV. In doing so, however, it will totally cannibalize its existing business unless it prices the new download service as a premium product.

Right now it’s not doing that. Rather, it’s using the download service as a kind of upsell mechanism to get people to sign up for more DVDs (hours of “Watch Now” viewing time are tied to subscription price levels). Also, the fact that the Netflix service is not a download but streaming video will compromise the user experience given the variability of “broadband” speeds in the US.

Joost, despite its high-profile founders and all the buzz surrounding it, is another TV on your PC service, albeit with some new features (chat) and a novel look and feel.

TV and Internet content are merging. Eventually the content will equally be mobile as well. But the bottom line today for both Netflix and Joost is that people will watch clips, previews and short-form content on their PCs but don’t want to watch full-length programming.

Maybe that will change in several years. But for right now, the prize is getting content from the PC to the TV and “the battle for the living room” (so far) is between Xbox vs. AppleTV vs. SlingCatcher. . . . and maybe TiVo.

The Internet/PC is much better a promotional vehicle for TV (or films) than a primary viewing mechanism. And the big screen in the living or family room or bedroom is better than being hunched over a desk, in an uncomfortable chair, to watch a two-hour movie.

But once these Internet TV models find a way to get all their content onto regular TV, cable should be concerned. Because the “triple play” is unlikely to save the day vs. cheaper (much cheaper) service.

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Related: Here are the NY Times and WSJ articles on Netflix and here’s ZDNet’s Donna Bogatin with additional detail.

Also: Matt Marshall writes about Dovetail.tv paying filmmakers $.10 per download and Brightcove raising $59 million.

One Response to “Netflix and Joost: PC but No TV”

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