Home Livestation Opens Beta – Live Streaming News Service

Livestation Opens Beta – Live Streaming News Service

Since last Spring when I first heard about it, I’ve been patiently waiting to get my hands on Livestation, a streaming television service from UK-based Skinkers, which is based on technology from Microsoft (who took an equity stake in the company in exchange for rights to the technology). Our digital lifestyle blog last100 previewed Livestation, which uses peer-to-peer technology similar to Joost, last July. Today, Livestation started granting beta access to people on the waiting list.

Livestation is a streaming television service that is most comparable to Zattoo (previous coverage). In fact, though I no longer have access to my Zattoo account (as it is not available in the US yet), Livestation seemed like a first cousin. Both offer high quality streaming video that doesn’t buffer or load in a very simple package that doesn’t muck things up with extras — it’s all about the TV with these products.

The beta version of Livestation, which is built on the back of Microsoft’s Flash competitor SilverLight, is PC-only, though the company promises a Mac version before the full release. NewTeeVee reports that Livestation signed content deals with a number of providers, but not everyone will see all of them. “European Livestation users will have access to the BBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, France 24 in French and English, Euronews, Canal+, Sky News and two BBC Radio stations with the new beta test unveiled today. US users will just get Al Jazeera, France 24 and BBC Radio for now,” according to NewTeeVee’s Janko Roettgers.

Because the technology is so similar — at least to the end user — Livestation will likely have to compete on content. Right now, it definitely lags behind Zattoo in that respect. But Zattoo isn’t available in the US, so maybe it’s a wash.

Last July, Erick Schonfeld, then with Business 2.0, wondered if live TV was worth it on the Internet. “On the Internet, does live TV even matter any more? … The Internet is the ultimate on-demand television system, where the choices of what to watch and when have no practical limits. The concept of live TV almost makes no sense in that context,” he wrote.

Livestation, and competitor Zattoo, are mainly focusing on news (and potentially sports) — things that happen live. There is certainly a market for live streaming coverage. Though Schonfeld was right to suggest that the services would be far tastier if they also stored streams for later viewing like a DVR, there is definitely a market for live TV news over the Internet.

What do you think? Is live TV silly on the Internet? Or will products like Livestation and Zattoo find a market? Is this the killer app for Silverlight? Let us know in the comments.

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