What is Joost?

Category: Television

I've heard that Joost offers free online TV, but I'm afraid it's either a scam, or something illegal that will get me in trouble. I don't want to end up like the woman in Minnesota who was fined $200,000 for file sharing. Is Joost's promise of free TV for real?

Joost free online TV

Joost - Free Online TV

It's true... Joost transforms your computer into a TV screen, without a cable box or satellite dish. Think of Joost as an alternative to watching TV on TV. Joost lets you watch television on the Web, just like you watch it with Tivo on your TV -- only you're in control.

Joost mirrors conventional television, offering channels, shows and yes, even advertisements. Joost's enhancements to TV as we know it include the ability to create your own channel, so you can choose what you want to watch, and when. Joost also allows you to bookmark your favorite channels, get news updates, and chat with your friends while watching a show, allowing people to share the TV experience.

But is the picture good? Yes! Joost uses a combination of streaming video and peer-to-peer technology to make near-television quality video possible online. Don't be put off by the jargon... peer-to-peer means that many computers on a network can share resources and workload, rather than a client/server environment, in which all members of the network rely on a central server to store and deliver content.

In order to use Joost, all you need to do is download the software and start viewing tv -- it takes just five minutes of your time. Joost runs on computers with Windows XP SP2, Vista or Intel-Macs running OS X. And since the service is ad-supported, there’s no cost to the user. Joost is still in Beta test mode, which means "close to being ready for prime-time, but we're still working out a few kinks." I got an error upon starting up Joost, but one more click and I was viewing a list of channels. And a few times during a show, the video got choppy for a few seconds.

So What's on Joost TV?

Depending on your tastes in viewing, the answer is either "LOTS" or "NOT MUCH". Joost has a lot of stuff you've probably never heard of... Ginx TV, the Frag channel, and lots of indie music videos. Yesterday, the Most Popular page listed "Dog Dating" and "Helio Castroneves visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway" -- huh?

Strangers With Candy There are some offerings from CBS, Warner Brothers, MTV, and Comedy Central, but don't expect to find all your favorite shows. I did find some Reuters and CNN news programming, some recent episodes from CSI, and the Price is Right. But the Nickelodeon channel is just Ren & Stimpy, all day long. Comedy Central is there, but there's no Daily Show, South Park, or Colbert Report. Just B-list stuff like Strangers with Candy, Stella, and Freak Show. You can search for a show by keywords, or browse Joost's channel listings by genre, popularity, featured picks or alphabetically.

Hockey fans are in luck, though... you can watch the entire NHL 2007-08 Season. There's no pro football, but you'll find some college games, and quite a few international soccer and other sporting programs. Because of licensing restrictions, some of the content on Joost is restricted to users in North America, but it is expected that more media outlets will embrace Joost, and make a wider variety of programming available.

And just to be clear about the legal aspects of Joost TV, there's no need to worry that the guys in dark glasses and trenchcoats will come knocking on your door after you start watching shows via Joost. Unlike some other shady "Free Satellite TV" sites, which blatantly steal copyrighted content, or simply provide links to online videos, Joost has crossed all the T's and dotted the V's. Everything is legal, licensed and on the level. You won't get sued for downloading if you watch online TV with Joost.

Joost was created by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the same guys who created Kazaa and Skype. They seem to have a knack for rocking the boat, finding ways to deliver innovative services, and ticking off the titans of the entertainment and communications industry along the way. I think they have another winner with Joost. Check it out... it may change the way you watch TV. Got a comment about Joost? Post your thoughts below...

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Most recent comments on "What is Joost?"

Posted by:

13 Dec 2007

Joost is completely Legal and the content is cleared and sent to Joost by the content owners .No user generated content is allowed on the service. Joost even protects its streams with military grade encryption and doesn't store the full show on end users computers to pretect the content from being pirated. No you wont be sued using Joost.

Posted by:

Herb Ohren
14 Dec 2007

Save your $49.95 download fee.The tech support is almost NOTHING! 2 weeks still no answer to my problem.No phone service.I'm trying to get my $ back but doubt if I'll get it.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Contact the bank that issued your card and ask them to initiate a chargeback.

Posted by:

16 Dec 2007

Hi Bob, great work -- always interesting -- my Q is about my new PC. It has VISTA on it as it comes -- can't I just switch HDs and be done with it? Happy Christmas-Al

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you have another hard drive with Win XP installed on it, then you SHOULD be able to put that drive into your new computer. One possible glitch: XP may complain about activation. If so, you can call Microsoft and explain that you merely moved the drive to a new computer.

Posted by:

19 Dec 2007

Downloaded JOOST and after reading the EULA, promptly blew it out of my box. They want too much personal info. Too nosy for me.

Posted by:

20 Dec 2007

I like Miro for my online TV viewing. It gives you access to any RSS Feed's video and last time I tried it audio blogs (podcasts) too. You can download all the videos available in it. You can store your selected channels in an xml file and recover it later if you reinstall the program or your Operating System. It runs on windows, mac, and some Linux distros including Ubuntu (I use it on Ubuntu). Miro is free too but also open source. There is no DRM in the videos. There are HD Channels. Both Miro and Joost only have about 200 commercial TV channels each. Miro has about 2000 channels of indie video while Joost only has a few dozen of them. You can download HTML videos and Bittorrent files with Miro. For more about why Miro is better than Joost check out http://www.getmiro.com/articles/miro_vs_joost.php

and to download Miro go to http://www.getmiro.com. It isn't malicious software and its free, under an open source GPL license.

Posted by:

02 Jan 2008

I use Joost, I love it. It's a great program, completely free, legal, and legit. Also, I watched Stella on Joost, a show I previously hadn't heard of, and it's hilarious.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2008

We don't have cable, but we do have a 6mb internet connection. We've been watching joost and the other offerings that the networks are providing, some in HD. We would often port things onto the main TV from a laptop with a really long cable but it would tend to interfere with surfing and stuff. Hearing the ding-ding of your mailbox over the stereo in the middle of a suspense movie is very annoying!

Recently I added a dedicated low format PC to the media tower and have it hooked up to the Audio/Video amp via S-video. It's a hand me down box and I'm still tweaking it a little, but we now have dozens of shows on demand with no cable. Can't complain for the lunch money I've thrown at it so far. I need a nice wireless keyboard with a touch pad to make it real good though.

We just started watching Burn Notice on USA and love it. So we have the rabbit ears with 4 channels, the DVD (now redundant as the PC has one) and web content and other multimedia from the PC. I'm also going to set it up to function as a jukebox for mp3s.

Also netflix is now giving you unlimited movie content online. Same stuff, on demand movies and even some TV shows. So we'll be sitting pretty once I have the bugs worked out.

Posted by:

14 Mar 2008

I was tremendously disappointed in ur review of joost, the online "tv" service. First of all you made it appear as if there is content, which there is not. Second of all the interface appears to be a jazzed up way to use streams, which is actually ok, but hey folks its not tv. I wasted a lot of time with joost which is actually pretty slick in presentation, but hey folks, where's the beef. I mean, I would like a consistent provider of legitimate content that would parallel or compete with my cable, before I mess with the internet again. Thanks for listening, Chris

EDITOR'S NOTE: I did say "don't expect to find all your favorite shows." Joost is far from a replacement for regular TV, but it's probably the closest thing there is for now.

Posted by:

M A Hameed
20 Jan 2011

Time magazine had reported that Joost will be offering about 50,000 TV channels. Whatever happened to that promise?

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