Joost to offer CNN

Internet company sighs distribution deal

Joost, a company attempting to broadcast television via the Internet, said Tuesday it had signed several new content distribution agreements, including one with Turner Broadcasting System to show CNN news and interview programs.

The company also announced its “commercial availability,” meaning it will allow beta testers to invite anyone to use the system.

“Later this month we will be completely open” and allow anyone to download the Joost software from the company’s Web site, said Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, the company’s top executive for content acquisition, in a telephone interview. “This is the way you normally ramp up peer-to-peer software … and it’s a way to give our (beta tester) friends a little bit of a scoop.”

Joost was co-founded by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, the entrepreneurs who upset the music industry with the Kazaa file-sharing service and then developed Skype, the Internet telephone system that was bought by eBay for at least $2.6 billion in 2005.

Joost operates by distributing streaming video of shows from “peer-to-peer,” or user-to-user, over the Internet. Consumers choose a channel via a software interface on their desktop that resembles a remote control. Like regular TV, it is free for viewers, and aims to be ad-supported.

In Tuesday’s deal, Joost said it will air episodes of “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “Robot Chicken” from Turner’s Adult Swim network, while it would air “Larry King Live,” among other news and interview programs from Turner’s CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.

Joost also announced several other content deals Tuesday: Sony will run episodes of several old TV series, including “Charlie’s Angels” and “Starsky & Hutch” on Joost; Sports Illustrated will run photo shoots and programs about its swimsuit issue; the National Hockey League will broadcast vintage games and game highlights; and Hasbro will run old episodes of “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe.”

Joost has previously signed deals with Viacom, Warner Music Group and CBS; it has advertising trials with numerous companies, including Coca-Cola, Nike, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Sony and Visa.

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