May 26, 2007
Joost Inks a Deal with the CAA

Earlier today, I wrote about VOD and online video platforms and their struggle with each other to establish themselves as places for alternatives to linear channels for television content. Joost has involved itself in a variety of interesting projects, including Lime's shift from a linear television channel to one distributed through VOD and Joost (through Yahoo! Health).

In an increasingly crowded marketplace of potential competitors, Joost has taken an interesting approach: getting an agent.

The online video destination, still in beta form, is touting "broadcast-quality" television content over the Internet and has been using its high-quality visuals as the way to set itself apart from the myriad online video distribution alternatives available online.

The deal with the CAA will be to help Joost secure further deals for the cross-platform distribution of television content.

Joost announced the beta launch earlier this month. Its first month featured ads from a total of 32 different companies and content from a variety of sources, including deals struck with Turner Broadcasting, Sony Pictures Television, Sports Illustrated, Hasbro, and the National Hockey League. I wrote, "I think this proliferation of platforms to view content is empowering for consumers, giving them the chance to have more autonomy in where and how they view their entertainment content. As these deals continue to be struck, it's a win for both companies, perhaps, but for viewers as well."

What got the most attention for Joost, however, was the high-profile deal struck with Viacom back in February. At the time, I wrote:

A Bloomberg story compares the Joost system to a broadcast model rather than the user-driven YouTube, so the point is that it is somewhat of a misconception to see the Joost deal as an alternative to a YoUTube deal but rather something different altogether which is more clearly just cross-platform distribution of existing content in full and not making material available for users to play with.

If looking at this deal solely as further distribution, it can only be seen as a positive. The more ways that Viacom can make its content available in as many was as possible gives more chances for viewers to connect with Viacom material, which can only be a positive. Ubiquity of availability seems to be the new key for reaching the consumer.

Now, questions remain murky as to how Viacom is going to allow users a chance to exercise their 'fair use' and be able to quote from, combine, and parody from this same media content, more along the lines of what drives YouTube, but that should be clearly separated from the Joost deal and the further expansion of shows in their entirety in new platforms.

As Joost continues to find its way, I know it has technical issues to continue working out, but it will also face the problem early HD television channels like HDNet faced. If your brand identity is built on superior technology and picture, what happens if other brands catch up to you in that regard?