The New Joost: Like Hulu, But Social

Om broke the news today that Joost is abandoning its full-on client for a browser plug-in, falling in line with the way of the web (aka Hulu). We’ve had a chance to poke around the password-protected site, and here’s some of what we saw.

The plug-in is a 18.6 MB download, and it installed fine on my Mac. The site seems especially driven by a social experience. One of my problems with Joost all along has been its lack of an organized, chronologically ordered, hierarchical program guide, and that’s still the case. But now content discovery is more socially oriented, with the home page including a Facebook/FriendFeed-like activity feed of what everyone is watching on the service at the time (users can opt out of being included in this if they wish). Users can friend each other and join groups, though there’s no internal messaging system. There are, though, a lot of RSS feeds — for anything and everyone.

The video-watching interface is pretty slick, with a 16×9 default player. Video looks good and starts extremely quickly, but the quality isn’t above and beyond the rest of the web.

And, of course, the other difference between Hulu and Joost is that Hulu still has more premium content.