Babelgum has just moved into public beta which means that we now have a posse of potential Internet television superstars lining up to slug it out, channel to channel, for our eyeballs. First indications are that the technology is starting to deliver the kind of image quality that the consumer demands, but the content still leaves much to be desired.
- Joost. The Joost team have done wonders with the image quality. If you’re on a half decent broadband pipe of 2 Mbps and up the quality can sometimes be amazingly good. The interface is also excellent, and out of the three pretenders to the TV throne, Joost is way ahead on the content stakes. But even so, there’s not really any ‘top flight’ programming available yet. This is bound to change, especially once the service moves on to television set-top boxes and away from the PC. When it does, this will be the player to beat. No question.
- Zattoo. This closed beta service promises to deliver conventional terrestrial television to your computer in real time, which of course means top line content on demand from anywhere in the world. The current reality is that while it’s amazing to watch live BBC programs via a broadband connection, the image quality is simply not good enough right now to impress. Of course it’s a work in progress, but of the three, this is the service which may have the toughest commercial battle going forward. Especially in competition against PVR friendly products like the Slingbox.
- Babelgum. The new kid on the block claims that it’s going after a different content niche than Joost, by focusing on independent scale programming from around the world. The early catalogue is too small to judge, and while the image quality is adequate, this is a service that needs to come up with a strong content deal fast if it is to slug it out with the rest of the players. Not sure that Spike Lee is going to be enough, either…
- The Majors and who else…? They may be holding back right now, but it’s inevitable that as the popularity of broadband TV takes off, the major broadcasters will roll out their own services. Sure they are hampered by legal and commercial issues at the moment, but give it a few years….?