Joost boosts online interaction with video

Online video site Joost just relaunched as a flash-based social community offering TV series, music and film. Realscreen spoke with global head of programming, Danny Passman, about the various strategies behind building communities around content.
October 20, 2008

While approaches to online content are still evolving, and the ever present issue of how to make money online remains, video sharing site Joost is taking a page out of Facebook’s, uh, book. The old version of Joost, launched in 2007, was basically a video on demand site. While users were present and deals were made with varied content providers such as NHK, PBS, ITN and CNN, the team behind the site felt its interface, which only allowed users to watch video, was isolating. Last week it relaunched with a new structure that is about creating communities around content.

The crux of the new site is to give users the ability to share what they’re viewing virally with friends without physically having to send out emails inviting users to Joost. Using what is called the ‘JoostFeed,’ users can share the videos they’re watching by exporting the regularly updated list to their other profiles on social networking sites such as Delicious, Facebook, Mister Wong and Digg, letting other sites’ interfaces draw people back to the programs available on Joost.

Another way to encourage interaction with video is the site’s ‘shout’ buttons. By clicking buttons such as ‘wow’ and ‘lol’ it creates what Passman calls ‘fun ways to make emotional connections to video.’ Users can then look at the list of videos which were tagged with these qualifiers when making their viewing choices.

‘One thing that’s really important to me is making sure the site is very timely and relevant. It’s not just a catch up TV site,’ says Passman. Joost has many recent original content deals such as its deal with All3Media in the UK, offering shows such as 10 Years Younger, How to Look Good Naked and Dirty Tricks. ‘It’s important that the site isn’t just a depository for videos.’

The site is an advertising supported model, which is free to consumers and shares ad revenue with content owners. Joost currently has over 8,000 hours of video, with the US as the major territory for content. In terms of rights, they are trying to get as many deals with as many channels as possible in different territories. ‘The goal is to make things global, unfortunately it’s not always possible with the studios,’ says Passman.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.