A while back we brought you news of Zattoo – an exciting P2P TV streaming app that unlike Joost, carries live TV from European TV channels. Today we bring you an exclusive Q&A session with Sugih Jamin, Chairman and CTO of Zattoo Inc. Among the many juicy tidbits: confirmation that the service plans to launch in multiple European countries this June.
iT: How did Zattoo start?
SJ: Zattoo was built on a PhD thesis project I supervised at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The company was founded in the US in May 2005 and Zattoo was first launched in Switzerland in June 2006.
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in developing this project?
Zattoo enters a country only when we can obtain legal rights to retransmit TV channels in that market. As we expected, obtaining legal rights to retransmit proves to be a very complicated, involved, and time consuming process.
What’s the deal as regards licensing from the various channels?
This varies from country to country and from broadcaster to broadcaster. It is more straight forward in some countries and with some broadcasters, less so in/with others.
How does the channel selection process work? Do you have criteria or do you just want to carry as many as possible?
Zattoo considers itself a cable company, so for each market, we try to carry all the major channels of that market so that our offering is no different from that of a cable company.
Can foreigners living abroad watch TV from their home country whilst based in another country or are the channels only available for viewing in the country of origin?
It depends on the distribution rights we’ve negotiated with the broadcaster. Some broadcasters allow for global distribution, others opt for a more restricted distribution.
Some users complain the quality of the streaming is not great. Is this something that can be improved?
As you know, the Internet provides only best effort service. When the Internet is congested, download speed becomes slower, which will affect Zattoo’s quality. While we have implemented several algorithms to provide as good a streaming quality as possible, we can not provide guarantee against Internet congestion.
Which countries have you launched in so far and how popular has it proved?
We now have about 300,000 unique subscribers in Switzerland and we recently launched in Denmark.
Which countries are you planning to launch in in the near future?
We plan to launch in Austria, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the UK in June.