LONDON: Joost TV, the nascent web-TV service conceived by Europe's equivalent to Sergey and Brin (Skype's founding duo Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom), is now in the final stages of its beta development and on Thursday unveiled an impressive line-up of global advertisers.

Funded entirely by ad revenues, Joost is expected to debut early next month and named among its thirty 'launch partners' such brand titans as Microsoft, Sony Electronics, Unilever and United Airlines.

Other big names include General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Motorola, Nestlé/Purina, Taco Bell and the United States Army.

The service not only offers a choice of around one hundred TV channels, it will also provide internet tools such as instant messaging and channel chat - "allowing people to really share the TV experience".

Moreover, Joost claims to be a totally secure platform for content owners, respecting their rights while protecting and enhancing their brands. It styles itself "the next generation of television for viewers, content owners and advertisers everywhere".

According to Nick Loria, the company's general manager of North American sales and operations, much of the early advertising focus will be on which of a wide range of formats will prove most effective. Some will be interactive.

"There's so much that's not known about how consumers will use this media," he says. "And there's so much interest among clients in how they will use it."

Although Joost is zip-lipped about the gap between its ad ratecard and the prices actually paid, word around Madison Avenue is that the going rate for a three-month series in the US is around $50,000 (€36,638; £24,948) - and double that figure for global exposure.

First announced late last year under the codename Venice Project [WARC News: 19-Dec-06], Joost displays high-quality, full-screen video on ordinary display units. Users download software to their PC or Mac enabling them to search and select channels from a screen menu.

Data sourced from International Herald-Tribune; additional content by WARC staff