Joost signs Viacom deal

joost3.jpgIt looks like YouTube has a real fight on its hands if it wants to pursue commercial programming. The forthcoming online video service Joost has announced it has signed a deal with media giants Viacom to provide full length TV programming. The deal with cover content from MTV, BET and Paramount Pictures film studio.

The agreement will come as a big blow to YouTube who has been hounded by Viacom to remove its material from the site. Earlier this month, Viacom requested around 100,000 clips from its networks to be removed from the site. No financial details are available but Viacom have promised to provide thousands of hours of free programming mainly aimed at younger Joost users. Examples will include Beavis and Butthead and Punk’d.

Joost (formerly known as The Venice Project) has been designed by the creators of Skype and is currently still in beta form and only available to those who sign up at its website and are invited to test it. It claims it will offer secure ‘piracy-proof’ content when it is finally released later this year.

Considering that Joost has not even officially been released yet, this deal indicates just how ambitious its makers are. However, it may be unwise of YouTube to enter into a commercial war with Joost. The best thing about YouTube is that it offers not programming but the best clips and snippets from TV around the world. There are already several P2P apps that offer channel streaming such as TVU Player that carry programming from the big networks but these are unlicensed and as such, somewhat unreliable. Joost runs the risk of simply offering more of the same while YouTube should stick to what it does best – letting users upload all those TV snapshots and archived footage that you can spend hours searching through.

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