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Why Did The Initial Joost Experiment Fail?

Posted by tomwiles at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2010

A few years ago remember seeing all those “Joost” commercials pushing their Internet TV application? “Proper TV – Joost” the sophisticated-sounding British spokesman endlessly blurted out towards the end of the ad.

Of course, the initial Joost experiment ended badly. The Joost application stopped working December 19, 2008. Literally millions of dollars went down the drain.

I remember downloading and playing with the application and watching a few minutes of the various included streaming videos. I wasn’t impressed, and never opened the application again.

What went wrong? Why have Hulu and Netflix ascended to near household name status, and Joost flopped with the thud of a drunk elephant tripping over it’s own trunk?

There’s something the Joost folks, savvy as they were, failed to take into account. It’s a little something called choice. Joost failed for the same reason that broadcast, cable and satellite providers are losing viewers and subscribers. The “choice” offered by channel surfing revolves around searching for the least-boring junk content that is currently playing. It is choice, but not a very good one. People sitting in front of their Internet-connected computers watching the Joost application trying it’s best to replicate the conventional channel surfing TV experience lost out to the Internet itself. Joost – b-o-r-i-n-g, close it and move on to another website and find something more useful and/or exciting.

The lesson is choice. Enlightened, sophisticated content consumers will choose that content based on three primary criteria – Entertainment, Information, or Character – either any single one or a mixture. By the way, these are the same three filters you apply to your choice in selecting friends.

The failure of the initial Joost experiment was inevitable, and should serve as a warning for all content creators and marketers. Sitting in front of an Internet-connected screen and the conventional channel surfing model don’t mix well. The Internet will easily win the battle.

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