What does Yahoo’s new TV service offer?

Y! Live logoYahoo have been in news a lot recently, especially concerning their potential takeover after an audacious bid by Microsoft. They’re also hitting the headlines again for their new TV project Y! Live. Apart from sounding like it was named by a Geordie, what does it have to offer that other internet TV apps such as Joost, Sopcast, TVUPlayer etc don’t?

Well, it’s hard to say at the moment because the company claims that due to heavy traffic on it’s launch, they’re taking timeout to “tune it up” a bit. According to their blog however, the one big difference is that it consists of completely Live programming. The trailer for the application, which is on the blog, consists of an introduction by JT the “Bigga Figga” and then some hip-hop music with images describing how you can create your own live streaming channels and invite your friends to watch. In which case, it’s completely different to Joost, which consists of pre-programmed content that’s not generated by users. So the question is, how can it improve on user generated P2P TV apps such as Sopcast and TVUPlayer?

Well, certainly the problem for me with existing P2P TV apps is that the channels are usually a jumbled mess. Because there’s no real rules and organisation to the way users can broadcast content, and because they’re coming from absolutely every part of the globe, you end up with garbled channel names that often don’t show what they claim to be showing on channels that are not in English. Yahoo can certainly improve the market in this respect if they can implement a more structured interface – such as that employed by YouTube – which makes the whole thing more usable. They seem to have taken a step in the right direction by issuing a standard API and tutorial for developers anyway.

The question is whether Y! Live will allow the broadcasting of Live streaming TV channels from around the globe or whether it will focus only on content generated by users. It would do well to concentrate on the latter because there’s already plenty of aforementioned P2P apps that broadcast TV channels. However, there are few broadcasting applications that are user generated in real time. Video sites such as YouTube are obviously user generated but you have to wait for the footage to be uploaded – Y! Live is promising to allow you to broadcast your footage immediately.

Y! Live could go one of two ways. It could be a well structured user generated TV site with lots of interesting content if filtered correctly. Otherwise, it could be just load of people dancing around in their bedroom to music saying “Look at me”. Until Yahoo have sorted out their “tuning” problems with the project, we’ll have to wait and see although if current technical problems are anything to go by – albeit it’s in experimental stage – I have a funny feeling this may be a short-lived project.

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