SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Joost, the Internet TV company founded by Europe’s top Web entrepreneurs, has taken a big step towards commercial viability by signing up 31 advertisers worldwide ahead of the launch of its free service.
The company, aiming to become a new kind of global cable TV network on the Web, was started last year by Niklas Zennstrom and partner Janus Friis, founders of Web phone company Skype, now owned by eBay Inc., and music-sharing site KaZaA.
Joost, which is testing the service ahead of a public introduction expected in coming months, aims to combine TV-like viewing with the wide choice and user control of the latest generation of Web services.
It has already signed broad programming partnership deals with Viacom Inc., CBS Corp. as well as independent producers.
Major traditional media and Internet companies are trying to build up online video platforms to capitalize on the burgeoning Web advertising market.
At the same time, a clear revenue model has not been established and investors are waiting to see whether advertisers will sign on.
While Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing service has staked out a lead in short-form amateur videos, Joost aims to make its mark in long-form programming, competing against Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Time Warner Inc.’s AOL.
Luxembourg-based Joost, which has 100 employees across Europe and the United States, says it is working with more than 20 media and brand advertising agencies to develop marketing campaigns for their clients.
Interpublic Group, through its Emerging Media Lab, has agreed to a year-long strategic partnership with Joost.
Joost said marketers that have agreed to support its ad-supported network worldwide include Coca-Cola Co., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., and Nike.
U.S. backers include Visa, United Airlines and the U.S. Army, consumer goods suppliers such as Procter & Gamble Co. and Kraft Foods Inc. and technology companies Electronic Arts Inc., Sony Electronics Inc., Microsoft and Motorola.
In Europe, advertising partners include General Motors Europe; IBM; L’Oreal Paris; Nokia’s N-series phones; Vodafone; and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. the company said.
Seeking to show how TV ads can be transformed by personalized computer targeting, Joost will measure user-consumption habits and advertising impact and intent-to-purchase data through a partnership with Frank N. Magid Associates.
“Joost delivers a distinct environment: the ability to micro-target audiences with new and unique ads during professionally produced programming,” Nick Loria, Joost’s senior vice president of global advertising, said in the statement released on Thursday.
Further details can be found at www.joost.com.