01:32 AM

12.22.06: Screen shots from P2P TV Venice Project

Om has screen shots from the still pre-beta Venice Project, a P2P TV start-up created by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis.

In an interview with Om in October, Friis explained:

Television is the most powerful mass medium, and we are trying to do is marry the best of television with the best of internet. What people love about the television is the story telling. What people don’t like is television that is locked in linear time. We want to try and preserve the best bits of television, and discard bits people don’t care for.

People like the freedom of choice and like freedom from choice. For example, channels are good, because they define the content. Today, the channels are locked in legacy infrastructure, but on broadband the channels are not locked in time.

That’s what the Venice Project is doing. What we have done is created a streaming P2P platform for television. This is a platform, which is good for content owners, for advertisers and of course the viewers. Since there are no borders on the Internet, this is a global platform. Sometimes we think content owners have legal reasons to restrict content locally and the technology allows them to do that.

It's hard to tell about the quality based on the screen shots. We'll take Om's word for it:

The visuals on a Lenovo T60 with a 15.2-inch screen were stunning and crisp. The streams came through without a problem and there was very little jitter. Still, no point hooking it up to a big screen TV… just yet! There isn’t LIVE TV content on the service right now and most of what is there consists of meager offerings streaming off the Venice Project servers. So you can’t truly judge how good this service will be when it comes to “live” broadcasts just yet.

But, Om points out there is a content problem.

Unlike Skype which had “forced viral distribution” built into its business model, this one needs content… a lot of quality content. Large media companies, globally, would like to get their pound of flesh from the Venice Project (now that the Skype boys are all rich, they can pay right!). The technology certainly works, and for content providers - say the Disney and Viacoms of the world - this is a pretty good thing. It frees them up from the carriage providers and gives them a global audience.

So is this a YouTube-killer, as Gizmodo's Jason Chen has it?

Do people care how the data is getting from the host to them? No. That's exactly why peer to peer will definitely win over a centralized, YouTube approach. By cutting down on bandwidth costs (they're mostly from the users), the Venice Project can have much higher quality video. Just like with Skype, what do people care that their call or video is going through Zimbabwe before getting to them? The only thing that's important is that the quality is there, and the content is there. All that the Venice Project needs now is content.