Skype duo launch online TV service

Venice Project trial involving 6,000 viewers underway

LONDON — The broadband TV service created by the founders of Skype, which revolutionized the telecoms industry, will bow in the New Year.

Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, who sold Skype to eBay for $2.6 billion, are planning to rollout what is being hailed as a “global broadband” TV offering that aims to give auds “the best of the Internet with the best of TV.”

The initiative, codenamed The Venice Project, intends to provide “near high definition” programs supported by advertisers enabling viewers to assemble their own channels or discuss the shows with other people.

A trial involving 6,000 viewers is underway and according to an interview in the Financial Times, Friis hopes to provide an outlet for several different kinds of content, including that provided by traditional broadcasters, indies and national broadcasters seeking expatriate audiences.

He said: “At the time we launched Skype (2003), broadband capacity was extremely ripe for communication.

“Now, three years later, it’s the same thing for video. Video is moving online, and people have to find strate-gies for that.”

In the U.K., the Venice Project will be competing with an embryonic video-on-demand market that has recently seen British Telecom and Channel 4 bow services.