Miro kicks Joost's ass

The Participatory Culture Foundation has published a compelling chart comparing the free, open Miro video player to Joost, a closed and proprietary system that's crippled with DRM and only carries content from those few producers lucky enough to get a deal with Joost. By contrast, Miro has done extensive outreach to indie creators, has no privacy-invading tracking of your viewing habits, delivers HD video, and is built on free software and open standards.

Using Miro is as easy as using a TiVo. Download the free software, pick the channels you want (over 2,500 of them at present, and anyone can publish new channels), and Miro will subscribe to your favorite net-shows, checking their RSS feeds for new episodes and downloading them with BitTorrent, so that the folks who make your shows don't go bankrupt on bandwidth bills. As a bonus, BitTorrent means that the more popular a show gets, the faster you'll get it -- no more sites being clobbered because too many people are using them at once. It doesn't matter what video format the shows are in, because Miro includes VLC, the open video player that can play pretty much every file-format on the net.

Miro is produced by a nonprofit, the Participatory Culture Foundation, who pay a staff of 11 (mostly hackers) to continuously improve and enhance the free/open Miro codebase. Miro is available for the Mac, Windows and Linux, with all versions being released simultaneously.

I'm proud to volunteer on the Foundation's board, and delighted to see how well we stack up against Joost, a company with more than 100 employees and a gigantic marketing budget (Miro's marketing budget is zero). Joost is a pretty nightmarish vision for the future of Internet video: a DRM-crippled, locked up future where video producers and viewers are beholden to a single company that chooses what does and does not get shown. This is the Internet, after all, not cable TV. Let's keep it that way! Link, Link to download today's new Public Release 3 of the Miro software for Mac, Windows and Linux

(Disclosure: I am proud to volunteer on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Participatory Culture Foundation, which produces Miro)


  1. I tried downloading it and alas, my anti virus software tells it’s a trojan. Some trick from the corporate machine?

  2. “Using Miro is as easy as using a TiVo.”

    That is absolutely not true, not even close. That said, I hope Miro continues to improve and eventually becomes a big success. I’ve certainly discovered some shows there that I otherwise never would’ve heard known about.

  3. “That is absolutely not true, not even close.” Well, that’s a thorough, factually grounded rebuttal!

    I just reinstalled Miro to see what it was like out of the box. Here’s the experience:

    * I double-clicked the icon.

    * I got a channel directory.

    * I chose the channels I liked.

    * I waited.

    * I pressed play.

    * I watched videos.

    That’s actually significantly easier than using a TiVo.

  4. If only Miro supported more commercial TV networks… I do like Miro better as a program, major reason being it runs on all my systems, but Joost just has better content.

  5. Miro would be great if it was reliable. It was great under its old name of “Democracy”, and I used it to download some great videos from YouTube. But when I upgraded to Miro, it destroyed its database that was keeping track of my Democracy downloads, leaving me with just a mass of files with names like get_video-video_id=bmxM6Rjx2u4.flv buried in some obscure folder, no working Miro, and no working Democracy either. I reported the bug but nobody’s given me a working way to recover my files. Help? Anyone? The bug ticket is http://develop.participatoryculture.org/trac/democracy/ticket/8116
    I’d be happy with either Democracy or Miro restored to working order, I’m past caring which.

  6. I have to admit I run both Miro and Joost (and Media Central and Front Row, because there’s not a single app that can do it all properly), and I’m in two minds.

    I like Joost for the fact that it’s supported by major studios and I can watch professionally made content on demand. I’m not bothered by DRM or proprietary protocols in that regard. If I want to watch Breakfast At Tiffany’s, I can. I’m more annoyed at the lack of HD content.

    I like Miro for the fact that I can access podcasts of all kinds, original and good content in high definition if I want (I prefer DL.TV on Miro rather than Joost). I tend to delete what I have watched, so once again DRM is not an issue, and I don’t care about the protocol used.

    It’s TV. It’s just another way of delivering non-interactive content to users. Miro are doing a good job, as are Joost. As are Virgin Media and their on demand content on my cable box, for that matter.

    To me it’s not one versus the other, but “why the dickens can’t I have one that does everything???”

  7. I tried to download Miro from the link you provided and Avast aborted the connection-said that the file I was trying to download contained a trojan…

  8. We don’t have “TiVo’s” where I live. I gather it’s a type of PVR. We have a couple of PVRs, but I don’t think you can really compare Miro to a PVR, especially considering it doesn’t really have remote support.

    sure you can do key bindings, but laptops are increasingly having them (see… uh.. any apple product, or that HP one that was ballyhoo’d about) and without inbuilt support I don’t think you can compare fairly an external, remote device with Miro.

    As for joost, I don’t think you can again compare them, as miro has to DOWNLOAD ALL OF THE CONTENT before displaying it. it’s not streamed like joost. I quite like joost, I’ve been catching up with a early 90’s blade runner rip off when I feel like it. it’s an instant-on thing. Do I want to have to wait 15-30 mins to download the show? no. I want it on… now.

    Think about the reasons why you’d like to really KEEP the content. I would say because either you REALLY really like it to watch again, or you want to share it with people; your friends and family. Increasingly people don’t have the time to sit, and share it in person with somebody, so what do people do? ask for a copy. The younger and more mobile people have laptops these days… see where I’m going?

    now all of what I just said would make the legal team of joost’s heads spin, but Miro can do it!

    Navigating Miro’s download directory is a pain, doesn’t have the metadata, and there’s no sharing interface. Yes, I realise we’re not even at the 1.0 mark. But I’ve done a search on the miro forums and nothing comes up.

    There is a “Share” feature, but come on, social bookmarking services? email?

    try the local network. Here’s a newsflash, high speed broadband is not as abundant throughout the world as most on the Internet would like to imagine.

    Sneakernet/LANs are still one of the most popular and social forms of sharing in my experience. I realise this adds complexity, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Look at niccy-negs XO project.

    Think about how much this would democratise content.

  9. Sorry, but Miro is utterly ridiculous.

    Here’s what you can get with Miro:

    1) YouTube, etc. videos, or, as sane people know them: “People dicking around with video cameras.”

    2) Video podcasts, or, as sane people know them: “People dicking around with video cameras on a regular basis.”

    3) No-budget “web tv shows,” or, as sane people know them: “People with at least some training dicking around with video cameras on a regular basis.”

    4) Real, pirated TV, which is handled with RSS, so you can automatically download 4 copies of every new episode, eating up your bandwidth and wasting your time.

    The first three suck and the fourth is illegal and handled suckily by Miro. Now, I watch a lot of pirated real TV, living out of the US and all, but for my bandwidth yen, I’d rather just control what I download, download it, and watch it (with VLC sans the Miro clutter).

    All this noise about “participatory culture” is exactly the point Andrew Keen is making, albeit poorly: This amateur crap is not as good as the pro crap that is available through traditional channels.

    I would be a million times more interested in a paying for a net-only HBO subscription (provided their videos supported open formats that I could play with no trouble) than getting people dicking around with video cameras for free. Since the former isn’t available, I simply pirate or buy DVDs–and Miro doesn’t meet either of those needs adequately.

    Flks, dn’t lt Dctrw’s rlty dstrtn fld trck y nt nstllng thngs. Hs rvws nd rcmmndtns r ndd rsng, bt th lck f xygn p n tht blln f hs lds hm t s vl n thngs tht r ptntly wfl. If you want quality internet-delivered video, just save yourself the hassle and get a good BitTorrent client and VLC.

  10. I agree with some previous comments that the two are hard to compare. Ironically enough, after reading this post I downloaded Joost for the first time to get a reference point.

    I can only say that it put me off straight away, appearing to be a TV trying to take over the control of my laptop. Needless to say, that’s the Holy Grail for people who actually like television…and that’s also the main difference between the two.

    Miro is great for discovering stuff, varying quality and all – Joost makes sure stuff gets shoved at you, with you having control over the shoving. Just like a remote, I guess.

  11. Have they gotten any good content for Joost yet? I tried it a few months ago and most of the channels were bottom of the barrel offerings. Was fun to watch a couple episodes of Starsky and Hutch to test the delivery speed, but other than that I was unimpressed. Also, Joost has gone out of their way to invent a new, novel interface that is a pain to navigate.

    I like Miro, but it’s not a ‘great’ app either right now. It’s hideously slow compared to the other apps on my system. The UI again has me scratching my head wondering what they were thinking in a lot of places. (Hint: Give me a way to select multiple files and delete them without going into the Host OS’ file system to do it!)

    Most of the problems I’ve had with the RSS feeds of torrents for commercial offerings is more based off the source feeds listing 3 copies of the same show, Miro’s just obeying the feed.

    At least the Miro team fixed the one bug I encountered before the rename — it refused to remember it’s settings between loads.

  12. #9:

    Sorry, I happen to love 2) and 3), although I doubt ON Networks, NASA, ESA et alt. would like their work to be called ‘dicking around’. I wonder, have you ever even looked at the Hubblecast, or shows like the one about the history of gaming, the name of which currently eludes me? There is a ton of good content out there.

    Besides, neither ad hominem nor pirating can really be considered ‘cool’, but thanks for trying.

  13. Second the comments on the NASA. ESA etc videos, but if you really want to be entertained (and educated) then try the TED talks.

    Incredible people talking about amazing things. Miro makes it trivial for me to fire up my laptop and watch another 10-20 minute talk about something amazing over breakfast. I’m dreading the day I’ve finally caught up with all their content!

  14. Miro is wonderful, I have discovered a lot of interesting content through it.

    And I do most certainly find Joost disgusting. Proprietary, DRM-encumbered and completely closed. Besides, it isn’t available for any of the computers in my home (I only run GNU/Linux, *BSD and Solaris).

    When it comes to mainstream TV-shows, I turn to Usenet or BitTorrent. The legal alternatives just suck too much.


  15. Having used both Miro and Joost for a while now, I definitely prefer Miro and use it much more often. Joost is heavily restricted, has crap content and I still can’t figure out that interface, though it does look pretty slick. Plus, Joost seems to take over my boot up in worse ways than Miro does. Miro, on the other hand, works on my Linux box, will play pretty much anything I throw at it, is very easy to use and it is open. The fact that Miro is open, allows me to grab an rss feed from a torrent site, add it as a channel and, voila, whenever a new episode of my favourite Hollywood or podcast shows is uploaded, there it is in my Miro directory! This beats the snot out of Joost. The posters above slagging Miro for not having enough content just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the power that has been given to the user. With Joost you’re stuck watching the crap that the netwroks want you to watch. Miro allows me to watch anything I want to watch.

  16. I’ve tried both Miro and Joost from work where I am required to go through a proxy. Neither one of them support proxies.

    I find this asinine. What kind of internet application doesn’t have a settings for a proxy???

  17. One word: no real streaming.

    I have been looking at the “Internet TV” thing for about 10 years now and I have the opinion, that as long as you have no real streaming and have to actually download (and wait) for shows to play you will not get enough market penetration (oh god the words) to make any kind of impact on the web.

    JOOST solves that – and I hate it because its another “exclusive” club with crappy closed source programming (as in the program and the TV shows).

    Quality of shows as someone else pointed out will not be good unless there is a w-i-d-e-r audience and you only get a wider audience when its as easy as TV and it won´t be as easy as TV unless its streaming and it won´t be streaming >freely< unless there is an open source project trying to make it streaming - which there isn´t. Big TV will do everything (like buying up Bittorrent f.e. (I still think the streaming protocol was the biggest reason Bittorrent got bought up)) to try to stop P2P streaming in good quality. Peercast has´t seen an update in years for video streaming (no I don´t think just ogg support will get you a "wider" audience - one that actually watches TV as past time and not to show off great tech) and the bittorrent streaming protocol has been dying in its tracks. Unless miro can do REAL streaming or at least let me play stuff while its beeing downloaded its no better then iTunes or other RSS fetching stuff from a client/consumer perspective and these are the people who count. They don´t care if you can pay your bills for bandwidth - all they care is instant fluent uninteruptive streamed programming without much interaction - JOOST offers that and is therefore much close to TV then ANYTHING else out there. I just hoped they would have gone the open way - but seeing the Skype closeness it was foreseeable that this would not be the case. I do not get why you need DRM in the first place at all. Last I heard you want people to see you shows the more the better and including DRM in JOOST was about as stupid as adding DRM to CDs. (Break something that was working great that is). So implement a distributed streaming protocol into miro and we are talking again - until then I will weep for the loss of a great opportunity to dethrone monolithic TV once and for all. (Only thing that gives me hope that all the non-geek people installed JOOST looked at it and never used it again (must be this obtrusive performance hungry all eyecandy interface)

  18. Wow, I’m glad I’m not the only one nonplussed by Miro. I tried it when it was Democracy, and it didn’t do the one thing I wanted: let me look for specific videos, download them, and watch them.

    I don’t need “channels”. I have “channels” on my cable box, with a fully-functional DVR built right in, and plugged into my big-screen 1080i monstrosity.

    The VLC client and a good Torrent app sound like what I need; Miro is just slapping clutter I won’t watch in the way of the stuff I want.

  19. You know, I open up Joost, find a show I want to watch, and immediately watch it. No downloading time, fairly good quality, and they’re real television shows (mostly).

    But yeah Joost suffers from lack of content. For a while I really felt that I watched everything I had wanted to that was on joost and nothing new was really being added.

    I tried Miro and I didn’t know any of these torrent rss feeds everyone talks about, and I didn’t see the need to watch video podcasts out of itunes nor youtube videos out of well…youtube. So I deleted it. I’ll probably try to find those sites and try again sometime.

    And I hate DRM as much as the next guy, but if it’s a television show, which I don’t usually download/rewatch anyways, I’m not too worried about if it has DRM or not.

  20. I use BT and VLC/Quicktime to get the stuff I want to save, and Joost when I just want to watch TV. I’ve used Miro off and on since the first Democracy release and I am not really impressed with the content selection. At least Joost has decent content.

  21. For all the folks having issues with Miro downloading multiple versions of the same show, just refine your search on whatever rss site you use. The one I use allows me to specify season, episode, distribution group and more, just by clicking on the ‘advanced search’ button. This will eliminate most of those multiple versions.

  22. I think the difference is very simple and it’s in the mission statements.

    Joost: return shareholder value for their particular business model
    Miro: return social value and provide a good service

    I don’t think the Joost business model is “invalid”, although I prefer Miro’s framework. A hybrid would work well, and there are plenty in development…

  23. I’ll be happy if they find a way for either one to work with XBox Media Center. Thankfully, there is a Joox.net compatible script. There used to be one for TV Links before it got closed down…

  24. I had the same problem as UNOHOO.

    Whenever I try to download it Avast gives me a message that there is a trojan and closes the connection. Specifically the trojan is Win32:Ranky-GW. I think I’ll pass until this is cleared up.

  25. I agree 100% with post #16.

    You want me to use Miro, then figure out a way for the shows to instantly play by streaming. Until then, forget it. If I want to download a show, I’ll do it on my own without Miro’s bloated software.

    Right now, Joost sucks, and so does Miro.

    It’s so much easier to find streaming flash videos on random websites like the recently deceased TV-Links. And if I can’t find it on a streaming webpage, I’d rather just download with bittorrent so I have full control over how much (or little) I upload the content.

  26. As much as I love Miro for being pretty much the best video RSS player out there, Joost has it beaten with one incredibly important feature: on-demand streaming video.

    With Miro, any time you want to watch, you have to wait. This precludes browsing around looking for shows you might like: you have to download the entire thing before you can even decide you hate it after the first few minutes.

    There are Joost-like peer-to-peer streaming video protocols out there which are completely open source and facilitate on-demand viewing while retaining BitTorrent-like bandwidth costs. Check out distribustream.org

  27. I have been using Miro since the tail end of it’s Democracy days. (I like the name Democracy better) I love what they are trying to do & I think it’s a great app., but there is certainly room for improvements, really just nit-picky things:

    1) create the option to open it up with no content, ie. more like a web browser where your ‘home’ page is blank.

    2) More customizable features in the options/preferences. for example:

    3) bring back the feature where you could click on the screen while playing a video to toggle between fullscreen & non-fullscreen modes.

    4) Better version control. Whenever I install the updates, and it relaunches the new one, it always tells me something about Miro being in the trash. Annoying.

    5) It keeps losing the location of it’s own video library, which causes endless warnings from the app.

    6) The Miro app. on one of my computers has all the menu options & preferences in German. It has been this way for like 4 version updates.

  28. Joost’s interface is garbage, but it has real shows available (granted it’s mostly CSI which I couldn’t care less about but that’s beside the point.) I personally WANT a net-based, cable-tv replacement, because I hate cable TV and canceled mine years ago.

    I tried Miro when it was Democracy and again after the change. It’s a noble effort, but it’s of no use to me for two reasons:

    1. BitTorrent is useless. I don’t know if my ISP is throttling traffic or if I’m just unlucky but I get an average of 2-7k/sec trying to use torrents from anywhere. Meanwhile I can hop on newsgroups and get 150k/sec. Plus bittorrent files are only fast if they are popular enough to have seeders.

    2. As stated in previous comments, most of the content on Miro is “Indie” which is another way of saying Crappy. (disclaimer: I like a fair amount of Indie music but for every good independent band, there’s about 100 suck ones. But when it comes to Indie film/video work, it’s more like 1 good one for every 100,000,000 idiots lip-syncing to horrible songs or talking about how great the cheese sandwich they made was.)

  29. I just downloaded Zattoo. It’s crappy but at least it has two channels from my country. That’s all what interests me.

    Oh… Simpsons time!

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