Skype duo unveils online TV venture

The team behind internet telephony brand Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, have unveiled their latest venture, an online television service called Joost, which was previously known as the Venice Project.

According to the project’s founders: “Joost combines the best of TV and the best of the internet by offering viewers a unique, TV-like experience enhanced with the choice, control and flexibility of Web 2.0.”

Like the Skype service which was sold to eBay last year, users download the Joost free software and use it to search the Net to watch films, video clips and other rich-media content online. The founders say the new project combines aspects of file-sharing software and conventional broadcast TV.

Joost chief executive officer Fredrik de Wahl says: “People are looking for increased choice and flexibility in their TV experience, while the entertainment industry needs to retain control over its content. With Joost, we’ve married that consumer desire with the industry’s interests.”

Joost has caused frenzied speculation among the media community as it is the first global TV distribution platform, and brings together advertisers, content owners and viewers in an interactive, community-driven environment.

The new online TV service will be ad-supported, but ad slots will be briefer and less frequent than traditional TV advertising.

It is anticipated that, once launched, the service will take on traditional TV channels in a bid to attract users and viewers. Joost has already struck deals with content providers such as Warner Music and Endemol.

The founders say Joost is the answer to “today’s broken TV model”, and anticipate high levels of peer-to-peer TV distribution via the Net and mobile phones.

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