Internet TV website gets a facelift

Joost, an internet television website from the inventors of Skype, has received a technical facelift after failing to live up to the buzz surrounding its launch a year ago., pronounced “juiced” in English, now features a platform based on Flash, the most popular program for viewing video over the web.

Joost boasts a huge library of online video programming including news, sports, music videos, television shows and movies from partners such as CBS, Sony Pictures, Viacom, Warner Bros and others.

But it had been lagging behind rival video sites such as YouTube and Hulu, a joint venture between News Corporation and NBC Universal, ever since its official launch in October 2007, in large part because users had to download Joost software to watch.

The new Flash-based service is download-free and videos open in Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Joost chief executive Mike Volpi, in a posting on the company blog, said the switch to Flash was an acknowledgment of a need to “make changes when our users, trends or data suggest a new direction”.

“You can now watch video directly in your web browser,” he wrote. “You still get the great quality video you expect but you don’t have to launch a separate application to watch shows on Joost.”

In addition to switching to Flash, Joost has also unveiled a number of new tools in a bid to build a social network around the website.

The new features allow users to interact with video and with other people on the website by, for example, voicing their opinions through comments or finding out what their friends are watching.

“Our integrated social tools make it easier than ever for people to find the shows, film and music they want to watch, and to form communities around that content, which ultimately enriches their overall experience,” Volpi said.

Joost also introduced a new programming guide, dividing its 46 000 videos into three categories—shows, music and film—which it said would make it easier for users to find what they were looking for.

Joost was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the creators of Skype, the popular internet telephony service that allows users to make free calls over the web.

Shortly after its beta launch in January 2007, Joost announced a partnership with Viacom, which had YouTube remove more than 100 000 unauthorised clips of Viacom television programmes from the popular video-sharing website.—Sapa-AFP


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