Joost Relaunches with Flash-based Video

It wasn’t so long ago that all eyes were on Joost as the Internet’s best hope for delivering an Internet-enabled television experience. From the founders of Skype, Joost promised to integrate social networking elements with full-screen, streaming of both live and independent content. But one huge barrier to entry for Joost—besides having to have enough bandwidth to make watching full-screen streaming video a reality—was having to download Joost’s client software.

Today Joost is relaunching, and the client software is gone. Instead, the service is relying on a new Flash-based, download-free playback engine that provides access to the full library of Joost content and offers social viewing functions.

“People have always relied on their friends’ recommendations to figure out which movies they want to watch, or talked about their favorite TV shows and moments with friends and colleagues—and now Joost has combined those real-life experiences in one online destination,” said Joost CEO Mike Volpi, in a statement.

The new Joost site enables users to stream video from partners like CBS< Showtime, Viacom, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros. Television Group, but also to voice opinions through shouts and tags, find out what their friends are watching, or interact with each other through Joost groups based around shows, characters, or industry figures. Users can also tap into third party platforms like Digg, FriendFeed, reddit, Meebo, and others, and Joost plans to tap into FaceBook connect so users can bring their Facebook communities to Joost.

Of course, a video service is nothing without content. Joost plans to run the entire fall lineup of shows from CBS. Joost also says it has nearly doubled the number of videos available on the service, and now offers more than 18,000 music videos.

However, the streaming video landscape has change site Joost first loomed over the horizon: online video juggernaut YouTube just started running full-length CBS shows and NBC/Fox co-venture Hulu doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, and offers full-length online version of current network programming.

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