Viacom Strikes Content Deal with Joost

Not long after it demanded that YouTube remove its content from the popular social networking site, Viacom said Tuesday that it had signed a deal with Joost, the Internet TV startup run by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis.

Programming from Viacom's MTV Networks, BET Networks, and Paramount Pictures divisions would be made available on the service. Joost will offer broadcast-quality video across the Web using what it calls a "secure, efficient, piracy-proof Internet platform." Financial terms were not disclosed.

Joost will allow free access to the programming through its Web interface. Advertising would offset costs of running the network, the company says.

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"We're extremely pleased to be working with Joost, and couldn't be prouder to be a key partner in the launch of the next generation in broadband video technology," Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said in prepared remarks.

Viacom plans to make available both recent and classic full-length films from Paramount, as well as such shows as MTV's "Real World," Comedy Central's "Stella," VH1's "Surreal Life," and BET's "Comic View." Shows from Nickelodeon, CMT, MTV2, Logo, Spike TV, mtvU, and gametrailers.com would also be offered.

Formerly known by the code name "The Venice Project," Joost hopes to lure television networks and content providers to distribute their videos online, although specifics of the technology are still under wraps. It is known that Joost will make use of peer-to-peer streaming.

The service is currently in private beta testing, and works on both Windows and Mac OS X platforms.

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