Update: The Venice Project is now Joost. Over the last few weeks beta testers have been having some fun with The Venice Project, a highly-anticipated streaming television service. With the growing availability of high bandwidth connections from 8Mbit cable offerings to 30Mbit Verizon FIOS lines, there's no wonder why everything these days is high-quality and on-demand. The only thing we don't have yet is high-quality and on-demand streaming television without the need for a TV tuner.
The Venice Project is something I've been waiting for and it's almost here. From the developers of Skype, The Venice Project is not going to be some underground, shady and possibly illegal service - they're doing it legitimately and it's going to change the way people watch TV.
We are in the process of launching a secure P2P streaming technology that allows content owners to bring TV-quality video and ease of use to a TV-sized audience mixed with all the wonders of the Internet. All content on The Venice platform is provided by content owners directly, and it's all protected with the highest standard of encryption using the most recent, up to date, federally approved Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) (FIPS 197) and we are working within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) framework to ensure that it complies with appropriate content protection and ownership regulations.
The video quality won't be HD but it won't be QVGA either. Everything was made for full-screen viewing in mind so you won't be seeing any blocky pixelation. That being said, there has been some recent ruckus about the bandwidth requirements of running The Venice Project client. ArsTechnica has an article citing that watching one hour of TV on The Venice Project client "consumes an average of 320MB downloaded and 105MB uploaded traffic". So if you have a big 24-inch iMac and watch 2 hours a day, you'll be downloading 20GBs a month and uploading 6.3GB a month. Compared to other sources of online video that doesn't seem too bad in my opinion. My roommate Chris went through a terabyte last month and Comcast hasn't complained yet, although there's no doubt in my mind that we have been "flagged".
The Venice Project blog expands on this bandwidth issue saying that popular content has more sources (like BitTorrent) and can result in bandwidth usage of as low as 220MB down for one hour of content.
Because we're aiming for a TV-like experience with continuous streaming video and the ability to flip channels, we're in a somewhat different situation to other systems, which are often about downloading specific pieces of content and then watching them. But to provide some degree of comparison, a digital television feed from a satellite would set you back something between 14 and 70 GB/hour; compressed digital television works out at between 900 MB and 3 GB an hour viewed, and DVD is of the same order.
The Venice Project reminds me of some sort of Front Row application but with actual content behind it. Now if someone could modify Apple's iTV, which will get a new name and hopefully be released at MacWorld this week, to run The Venice Project, I'd be in utopia.
Edit: Adam is a beta tester and reviewed The Venice Project.