LONDON: Media groups and private equity firms are apparently falling over themselves to invest in online television service Joost, the brainchild of Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, which launched last week [WARC News: 03-May-07].

The nascent business, offering 150 web channels, has raised $45 million (€33m; £22.6m) from the likes of Sequoia Capital and US media giant CBS, cash that will help expansion to lure "tens of millions, even hundreds of millions" of viewers, claims Friis.

Joost was backed at launch by a number of major advertisers including Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard and Nike, thus making it attractive to big name content providers.

Until now the venture has been funded from its progenitors' relatively deep pockets. The duo sold internet telephony and messaging network Skype to online auctioneer eBay two years ago.

Comments Sequoia general partner Roelof Botha: "The premise and the promise of Joost are very intriguing. It is rare to come across a business that has the potential to transform an industry in quite the way Joost has."

The service offers viewers professional content, downloaded and displayed in high definition on a full-screen platform, rather than in a browser window. Its programming comes from CBS, Sony, Turner and Warner brothers among others.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff