YouTube is the online video service that needs no introduction. According to ComScore, in February in the U.S. alone, 80.4 million viewers watched 3.42 billion videos on YouTube.com (42.6 videos per viewer).
Hulu and Joost, on the other hand, are less well known. Hulu launched at the end of October 2007 as a private beta and didn't go live for the general public until mid-March 2008. Hulu is a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp. The site has been widely praised for its slick user interface. On Hulu.com, users can watch full-length TV shows, movies and clips for free. NBC, FOX, MGM, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. provide the content.
Joost has been around longer than Hulu, but is still a relative newcomer -- it launched in May 2007. Joost is backed by CBS and Viacom, and provides its high-quality video through the use of a peer-to-peer technology. Joost offers no Web interface, and the service is also free to use.
At the moment it seems clear that Hulu and Joost aren't taking aim at YouTube's user generated video market. Instead, they are focusing on providing more traditional television and movie programming on the Web. YouTube has so much momentum that it is untouchable in the user generated video market, so this seems like a good move, although neither Hulu nor Joost has ruled out ever accepting user-generated video.
When compared to Hulu, Joost seems to be crashing just as Hulu is getting its wings. In early April Joost began restructuring and plans to refocus its services on U.S. only. This is a major blow as the international market was one area in which Joost had a major advantage over Hulu, which is also available only in the U.S. According to stats from Compete.com, since Hulu's beta launch in October, and especially since its full rollout in March, Hulu's people count has passed Joost, and Hulu is growing at a much faster rate. (Check out the chart here.)
YouTube has gained the critical mass that it needs to sustain itself in the user-generated content market -- there will be no slowing it down at this point.
Hulu is off-and-running in the television programming and major motion picture markets.
Joost? It might want to start saying its good-byes, with one caveat; programming from CBS and Viacom could save its life as long as it gets a Web interface.