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Blue Chip Investors Line Up To Back Joost

The free TV service, which Joost bills as 'the world's first broadcast-quality Internet television service,' is positioned as a competitor to Google's YouTube.
A Blue Chip lineup of investors has invested $45 million in Internet TV provider Joost, according to an announcement from the TV service Thursday.

Joost said the investors had been "selected," indicating that Joost had little problem picking eager investors in the company, which was started by Skype Technologies founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom.

The "five selected parties" investing in Joost are CBS, Global Expansion Index Ventures, Li Ka Shing Foundation, Sequoia Capital, and Viacom. Global Expansion Index Ventures and Sequoia led the investment round.

The free TV service, which Joost bills as "the world's first broadcast-quality Internet television service," is positioned as a competitor to Google's YouTube. Viacom and its CBS affiliate began collaborating with Joost in February after Viacom's attempt to work with Google failed.

"We've carefully selected these investors from a variety of interested parties, as they are best-in-class in their respective arenas and bring unique assets to Joost that will enable us to significantly accelerate growth and development of the company," said Friis.

Joost recently launched its video platform with more than 150 channels of mostly U.S.-created programming. The peer-to-peer service streams programming to users with broadband connections.

CBS alone is contributing more than 2,000 hours of programming ranging from news and sports to entertainment features. Viacom's contributions include Comedy Central, MTV, and shows like Laguna Beach. Viacom's Paramount Pictures will provide full-length feature films.

The presence of Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings, is likely to give Joost a boost in Asia and in other regions where his companies are active. In a statement, Li Ka-shing said: "We were excited about the opportunity to invest in Niklas and Janus. With the quality, content, speed, and usability of Joost's platform, and the community-targeted service offerings, we expect Joost will revolutionize the Internet television market."

Friis and Zennstrom founded Joost in January 2006. The advertising-supported service is still in beta. Joost said the $45 million would be used to accelerate product development, global expansion, localization, and service offerings.

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