Skype founders are Joost in time for online TV plan

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The founders of Skype, the internet-based voice service that has caused waves in the telecoms industry, have set their sights on a similar shake-up of the TV sector with a new online service called Joost.

Joost offers broadcast-quality television content over broadband for free. Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, who also established the music-sharing site Kazaa, are set to launch Joost in the UK this year, although the company has yet to reveal the launch date. It has already signed up content providers such as Warner Music and Endemol and advertisers including Wrigley and Maybelline.

Joost is designed to be a global internet platform that offers content developers and advertisers the chance to reach a worldwide audience. Like the "on-demand" services from Sky and Channel 4, Joost will let viewers watch a show when they like and pause and rewind programmes.

One of the main aims of the service, originally dubbed "The Venice Project",is to improve the quality of video content viewed online. Sites such as YouTube offer vast amounts of online content but the quality of the video is not equivalent to broadcast television. More than 100 million clips are viewed per day on YouTube, underlining the enormous demand for online video content. The Joost service will be funded through advertising once subscriber numbers have picked up.

Thousands of users have downloaded the Joost software despite the company being in a trial phase and having little content to offer at this stage. The launch of Joost piles the pressure on traditional TV companies, including ITV, which have struggled to maintain ratings market share in the youth segment.

Joost has already signed up content partners including Endemol and National Geographic and expects to add more content partners as it nears its launch.