MediaZone Launches P2P Online TV

MediaZone, an enabler of subscription online television services for companies such as NBC Sports, is set to announce Tuesday it is beta-launching an ad-supported P2P streaming online television network. The idea is essentially cable-style television offered for free online.

As opposed to on-demand efforts such as Brightcove and the Venice Project, MediaZone will offer linear, streamed programming. It is Windows-only, with a peer-to-peer client available either via ActiveX or desktop app. You won’t get any of the fancy premium content all the VOD players are fighting for, but you will get free instant content.

“As we’re broadening into broadband offering, particularly one that’s free and advertising supported, P2P allows it to be financially viable,” said MediaZone CEO Michelle Wu in an interview last week.

The launch of MediaZone’s “Social TV” includes channels for local programming from places such as China and Trinidad and Tobago, and extreme sports. MediaZone will enable larger sites to play channels as well as provide advertising and hosting on its own destination site for smaller programmers.

Though “Social TV” doesn’t pack much punch as a moniker, MediaZone is following through on the name by including chat, ratings, comments, and blogging features alongside channels.

For now everything will be free, though future versions of Social TV promise to have subscription and pay-per-view options, according to the company.

San Carlos, Calif.-based MediaZone is a subsidiary of South African media company Naspers. Wu, an entrepreneur with experience at Xerox PARC and the China Internet Group, says she runs the two-and-a-half-year-old company as if it were a startup and Naspers an investor. She leads 80 employees in the United States and an additional 250 in China.

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