Different Dynamics Would Make “Skype TV” Hard

Filed as News on December 18, 2006 7:31 am

The same founders behind Skype are putting their cash (since the company was bought out by Ebay for over $2B) behind another project involving internet TV.  The Financial Times reports that they are working on the yet-to-be-officially named work named the Venice Project.

While there’s no question the time is ripe for online TV to take off, and its difficult to argue about the impressive pedigree behind Venice (Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom also created Kazaa — boy, that brings back memories!), one has to wonder what kind of playing field it is up against.

Because unlike Skype, Mssrs. Friis and Zennstrom have to contend with content owners … who have a tremendous stake in how they should share and license their content. 

As far as I understand it, the Venice Project aims to bring secured content to viewers over broadband connections via p2p technologies.  The picture quality is supposed to be excellent.  However, no major media conglomerates has yet to sign on with the Project — and without quality content, any project aimed to bring TV over the internet is the very definition of a lame duck.

With the BBC, and now, all of the major American networks planning their own version of some sort of online video service, it almost looks like content owners are trying to disintermediate the portal owners and platform distributors.  After all, even if there is a 900 lb Gorilla in the room offering you a rich deal, Google’s rumoured 7 figure offerings would still require you to relinquish some of that control with no clear benefits at this stage.  Sure, YouTube has shown increased viewership for CBS once it put its clips up, but I’ve yet to see any more data on the issue (any other programming?  Over what period of time?  Any other network?).

After all, it doesn’t matter if its the best video distribution platform in the world with the grooviest API and community sharing tools.

if there’s nothing to watch, it just won’t fly.

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