CBS, Viacom juicing up Joost

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CBS Corp. and Viacom are among five investors that have committed $45 million in financing to the upcoming online television service Joost, the company said Thursday.

Sequoia Capital, the Li Ka-Shing Foundation and Index Ventures round out the company's investors.

"This funding represents a tremendous vote of confidence in Joost's platform," company co-founder Janus Friis said. "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."

Joost is part of the CBS Interactive Audience Network, set to launch in the summer, and it has a content deal with Viacom.

Index, a European venture capital firm, specializes in technology investments; Sequoia, a U.S. firm, has worked with Apple Computer, Google, Yahoo and Cisco Systems.

The Li Ka-Shing Foundation is a charitable organization run by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-Shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and Cheung Kong Holdings, based in Hong Kong. Joost hopes to expand into Asian markets through this investment.

"We expect Joost will revolutionize the Internet television market," Li said.

Last week, Joost announced partnerships with Turner Broadcasting and Sony Pictures Television along with the beginning of its "commercial availability." The service is expected to fully launch this month.

Joost employs peer-to-peer technology to distribute TV shows and video over the Web. It was created by Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, also the founders of Skype, which was acquired by eBay in 2005, and the Kazaa file-sharing network.
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