Mediazone offers yet another broadband video platform

But this one is social!

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

Yesterday, I posted about the "Consumer-Generated Media" showcase at AlwaysOn's event in NYC. One of the products featured was ClipSync, which mashes online video with chat features to make it possible for you and your friends to discuss what you're watching in real-time. Another one of yesterday's featured products, part of a "Technology Enablers" series, is working with a similar concept. That company is MediaZone.

Thus far, MediaZone has made a name for itself by hosting pay-to-watch TV content. The company has inked deals with major sporting events like Wimbledon to make coverage available online. There are also a smattering of MediaZone offerings from networks around the world, geared toward expats and travelers who want to stay in touch with their home countries. And it's got a global feel indeed. Right on the homepage, there are links to hosted channels from India, China, Trinidad, and Mongolia, as well as international sports; compare that to YouTube, which presently features videos about horizontal bungee-jumping and how to wash a cat. Unfortunately, I couldn't watch the South African sketch-comedy show I'd chosen, because I'd have to shell out an annual fee to access it (or any other MediaZone programming). Well, I guess it is licensed content. But it sure would be cool if that stuff were actually available to the masses.

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But at AlwaysOn, MediaZone CEO Michelle Wu wanted to talk about a new product. This is something called SocialTV, which combines video-watching and social networking. SocialTV consists of live streaming channels--like regular TV, really, right down to the TV schedule at the bottom of the homepage. The real difference lies in the fact that you can also discuss what you're seeing with other people around the world who are watching at the same time. But unlike ClipSync, it's presented as a way to meet new people rather than connect with your friends. If the company manages to ink some deals with some legit content distributors, it could be really cool. Goodness knows I could use more Lost-theorizing buddies. (One more week until the new episodes start!)

SocialTV, which was announced earlier in January at CES, is available in beta here. Sorry, Firefoxies: you're going to need Internet Explorer to access the site. And the beta product is Windows-only. Oh, and there are definitely some bugs.

P.S.: Because I know you wanted to know, SocialTV has a targeted-ad revenue model and a peer-to-peer architecture.