@ Mipcom: Interview: Mike Volpi, CEO, Joost: Set-Tops Will Have To Wait; Exclusivity Overrated

Joost will eventually reach the living room, isn’t planning a mobile launch but can expect more attention from one of its founding fathers. In Cannes for the Mipcom TV programming market, CEO Mike Volpi outlined the company’s strategy to paidContent:UK from a Riviera rooftop apartment. The overriding message – still in beta, London-headquartered Joost is trying not to get ahead of itself and is only cautiously predicting what viewers — Volpi says “hundreds of thousands of users on a daily basis” — might want from internet television. And, yes, co-founder Niklas Zennstrom will spend more time on Joost now that he’s cashed out of Skype but as an active board member, not an exec. Excerpts after the jump…

Short-form vs. long-form: Do people really want to watch TV on their computer after a day at the desk? Volpi: “Would a 45-year-old use their desktop computer to watch a film? Not likely. Would a teenager go up to their bedroom and sit on their bed and watch a film on their PC? Absolutely. In these early stages for full-screen-type things, you want to throw some stuff out there to see what is actually working, to let the market tell you.

Set-top boxes: Assuming people prefer lean-back viewing, why not put Joost in the living room? “We could, and we’ve had a lot of people that asked us to do that. For now, let us … find out and learn more about how people use it on the PC. When broadband reaches a point where 99.9 percent of viewers can watch it all day long without problems with it, then we can do a set-top box … When we do it, we’re going to do it right and we’re going to do it professionally.”

Distribution: Programme-makers are running a proliferating number of online distribution channels.Many of these companies that put content on their website or that have their own player to show their content will eventually just say ‘okay, I give up’; users like to go to a place where there’s aggregation and that will become (dominant) … We understand that you want to try to have your own player, and that’s okay. What we don’t understand is why you want to keep it exclusive to those players.”

Exclusivity: Many of Joost’s channels appear elsewhere so isn’t exclusivity important to you? “If you make Coke, why would you only have one vending machine for Coke? You want hundreds of different vending machines. In the case of the BBC, your job is to make great content – why are you quibbling over whether it goes over an iPlayer versus YouTube. It seems like you’re using tax-payer money to make great content – (so) put it in as many places as you can.”

Money: “It’s completely premature to say (how much money we’ll make) because it’s dependent on pricing of ads, level of inventory, the mixture of the type of content that people watch.”

More including advertising, P2P, ISP bandwidth claims in the edited transcript here.