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Joost Gets Live With Free March Madness

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UPDATE: For those searchers coming to this old story, you can find an updated list of where to watch the 2009 March Madness tournament here.

Joost will make live-streaming video available to all its users tomorrow; it has also scored a deal with its investor CBS to live stream March Madness. A new client should be ready for download by about noon ET on Wednesday, the company told NewTeeVee today.

The first public live broadcast is on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET; it will be a video chat with the Joost technical team to give the software a run-through. From next Thursday, when the first round of the NCAA basketball championships starts, every game in the series will be shown live and commercial-free update: Joost got back to us and said they were mistaken; the broadcast will actually have CBS’ in-stream ads, but no additional ads. And expats and fans from abroad should be pleased: There will be no geographic restrictions imposed on the content.

This is only a test, warns Joost, which has had reliability problems in the past. “If you’re a sports junkie with money on the game you may not want to depend on us for the last 2 minutes of the game,” said Joost VP of engineering Matt Zelesko, who replaced fired CTO Dirk-Willem van Gulik. “We expect it will probably break.”

The company can’t simulate how things will work until it has a lot of users pushing video through the peer-to-peer network, Zelesko explained. “To evaluate how it scales we need to open this up to more public audiences.” Joost has been downloaded some 5 million times; Zelesko said he’s hoping tens of thousands of users will show up to bang on the new live P2P infrastructure.

Joost has been quietly testing live streaming over the past few weeks. Zelesko said that in early tests, video is delayed by under a second, which is pretty awesome compared to what you’ll get from other live video services (I did an interview on Ustream yesterday, for example, that was delayed a full 30 seconds).

Although the cost of such a project is going to be significant, Zelesko said that this spring’s March Madness will not include any advertising that nets revenue for Joost. When we asked about the advantage of using Joost’s client approach vs. streaming through the web (something Joost hasn’t done yet but has said it may), Zelesko said, “I wouldn’t rule out other ways of watching Joost content in the future, but for now it’s the client.”

Live streaming is becoming a necessity for every online video offering — which is somewhat ironic, considering we’ve all just been through the TiVo revolution. But for sports especially, live just makes sense. YouTube has said it will be the next to jump in.

36 Responses to “Joost Gets Live With Free March Madness”

  1. bonsai tv has followed this idea stream even though it’s only an italian web tv. the importance is to understand that web tv is the future provided it folows some definite guidelines

  2. Joost and the other big US networks

    I heard from someone at Joost that they are in advanced talks with some of the other big US networks to carry them on Joost later this year. If that is true, we can expect to be able to watch at least some of the live TV content available on these networks. So 2008 could become the year that brings live TV to the PC. It seems that some of the big US networks have already been approached by Zattoo (another US company offering a live TV platform), but the networks were not too warm on the way Zattoo presented itself. Anyway, we are likely going to see other players trying to enter this emerging field.

  3. Hey Matt, maybe there were some on-the-fly issues with Ustream on the SXSW floor, but we were definitely delayed 30 seconds. It made for an interesting interview since we were trying to answer questions from the chat room!