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Viacom Partners with Joost

Viacom and Joost, a new Internet television service started by the founders of Kazaa and Skype, today announced that Viacom will contribute free content from its MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures division to the Joost platform.

It's a new Internet home for Viacom's video content, only weeks since the media giant alleged copyright infringement and demanded YouTube take down 100,000 clips, including content from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks.

At the time, Viacom said "it has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement" on content distribution.

Financial terms of the Joost deal were not disclosed.

Joost, currently available in limited beta, brings full-screen television to the Internet using the peer-to-peer streaming technology also behind Skype and Kazaa.

Beta tester and Forrester Research Analyst Brian Haven told internetnews.com Joost's interface, how users actually view and access content, works well enough for the site to succeed. Haven said its only limitations so far have been a lack of content.

A deal with Viacom should have solved the problem. But, instead, Haven said, the programming Viacom's chose to distribute over Joost only shows how little the company understands what its viewers want.

"I think what Joost has created is very nice, but overall, I think there's a disjointed understanding between what media companies want people to watch and what people actually want to watch."

He said it was particularly disappointing to see that neither Comedy Central's Daily Show or Colbert Report made the list. Short clips from both shows were popular on YouTube before their removal.

"What is it that the big media companies don't get?" Haven asked.

Haven said the answer might be that Viacom does understand what users want, but wants to push new content while maintaining tight control over its biggest hits.

And that's not going to cut it, Haven said. The age of a top-down paradigm where viewers have no say ended with the broadband Internet. Haven said even Viacom's plan to spend over a billion dollars on new media in 2007 won't help if the company doesn't embrace the new paradigm.

"If they don't even begin to demonstrate that they understand what the actual consumer behavior and need is and fulfill that goal, they can spend as many billions of dollars as they want and they'll just get a handful of people. They're not going to build another YouTube."