Zattoo Cooking Up More P2P TV


Just when you get jaded, along comes something you should have known about for months but is totally news to you. Like Zattoo, a P2P television company currently in testing in Switzerland, which streams live channels using peer-to-peer packet sharing.

Zattoo Screenshot

Zattoo, dually based in Zurich and Ann Arbor, sounds a bit like P2P TV efforts we’ve recently reviewed such as UUSee and MediaZone.

And of course, there are the inevitable comparisons to fellow European contenders Joost and Babelgum. In Zattoo’s case, the core difference is that programs are not time-shifted, but shown linearly in the same way they are on TV, currently including the existing interstitial ads.

Zattoo, which is based on research done at the University of Michigan, doesn’t currently have any channels available outside of Switzerland, somewhat hindering our review. However, initial testers such as blogger Bruno Giussani say they’re impressed.

The service offers the equivalent of Swiss basic cable, said Zattoo spokesperson Doug Wyllie, with about 65 channels in English, German, French, and Italian. The current agenda is to expand throughout Europe for the next couple of quarters and move to Canada and/or the United States in the fall. Wyllie said the startup has raised seed funding but declined to specify the amount or the funders.

Zattoo is currently free to all comers. The startup is exploring replacing existing ads with its own sales (in concert with the networks, of course), as well as subscriptions and payments. It will also try to recruit web-only content.

With additional reporting by Liz Gannes.



While I am sure you can use GeoIP for the restrictions, how do you deal with the fact that not all TV networks own the rights to broadcast on the open Internet valuable programs like Lost or Desperate Housewives!

In the UK, for example, Channel 4 offers live streaming online but with “blackout” times when programs they don’t have the rights for are on air.

Surely Zattoo will have to implement something similar… any ideas?


Does anyone know how the technical system compares to Uusee ( for example? I have downloaded their P2P player and it seems to work really well. They have over 30 million users, so I imagine they must be able to scale well. And they probably do. When I watch CCTV for example, the stream comes over very smoothly and never stutters or break ups, even in full screen mode.


As I’m involved in the technical part of Zattoo, I can say that the territorial restriction is based on GeoIP information. Means: you can watch channels licesed in a certain country as long as your IP address belongs to that country.


How on earth are they going to overcome the rights hurdle? Any mainstream broadcaster acquires a license restricted to the territory in which his signal can be received.

If Zattoo makes content available outside the defined territory surely they face problems.

And if their system scrupulously respects the territoriality restrictions incumbent on the broadcasters in question, then what is the point of the whole thing?

Joost I understand, Babelgum too. And I’m waiting to hear more abut Abbey Core.

But, hey, help me understand Zattoo!

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