Lycos Cinema invites guests to watch, chat

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Internet portal Lycos today is set to launch Lycos Cinema, a virtual living room where users can watch and chat about video in real time.

Using a proprietary watch and chat technology, the patent-pending video platform allows Lycos' 26 million viewers to create their own "screening room" communities where they can view and communicate about video content with other invited guests while building buddy lists for future screenings.

"Right now, there's an audience that is very willing and has a high propensity for social networking online in addition to a high appetite for video and video-based content that's different and unique," Lycos Inc. chief operating officer Brian Kalinowski said about the free service. "We're trying to go beyond to find new and interesting content."

Content on the site, at cinema.lycos.com, comes from different genres of television, film and video, including the independent film "The Champagne Club" and cult classics such as "Night of the Living Dead."

At launch, however, no major content deals with studios were confirmed, though Kalinowski said deals are in the works.

"We'll have every genre from horror to comedy that has been licensed to us and fully secured through DRM technology," Kalinowski said. "Some will be from production houses, some directly through larger studios and some from film festivals."

Kalinowski also said the service is useful for studios that might want to screen content — like behind-the-scenes footage — to a certain audience as a promotional tool by studios and record labels, or as a way to measure audience reaction.

"You could show a pilot to a smaller group of people by invitation only, capture the chat of what people are saying about the show and when it's done running, run a survey," he said.
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