I'm at RIPE56 today and tomorrow. RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens) is a collaborative forum open to all parties interested in wide area IP networks in Europe and beyond, and RIPE56 is, you've guess it, the 56th meeting.

This week-long event brings together the best minds on IP networks, and I'm here working predominantly on the issues of IPv4 depletion and IPv6 uptake. This is a complex issue requiring some deft communications.

Right now however, I'm in a very interesting presentation by Thomas Billeter and Fredy Kuenzler of Zattoo. From their website:

Zattoo has developed a software program that allows you to watch TV on your computer. All you need is a broadband connection and a current operating system (Windows XP or Vista, Mac OS X, or Linux). The service is legal and free of charge.

Zattoo is a peer-to-peer application. This means that the data is not streamed from one central server to all users watching a certain program, but flows from one user to the next, thus also using the computing power of the users’ computers.

Employing a team of 50 and funding of $15m, Zattoo is already live in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. More European countries and the US are planned this year.

Of course, the business plan is underpinned by advertising revenues, although the possibility of subscription based services isn't dismissed at this stage. The pitch to broadcasters and advertisers: "Zattoo attracts fleeing viewers back to broadcast TV".

The guys have just shown a matrix with "clips" and "full 24/7 programming" along one axis, and "archive content" and "live content" along the other. Here's how they slot themselves and competitive video offerings in that matrix:

  • YouTube - clips, archive content
  • MLB - clips, live content
  • Joost - full 24/7 programming, archive content
  • Zattoo - full 24/7 programming, live content

Zattoo currently serves two million users with 500 servers in 16 locations. Another 200 servers will be added in a few weeks. Less than half of content delivery is managed peer-to-peer due to the upload bandwidth constraints of typical ADSL broadband connections.

Their research has revealed why their current userbase is attracted to Zattoo:

  • 29% want to watch whilst they do other stuff on their computer
  • 22% don't have a TV
  • 18% use it when they are away from their normal TV
  • 14% use it when their normal TV is being used by someone else