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Serial entrepreneur Janus Friis, who co-created KaZaA, Skype, Rdio and Joost, is getting back into the online video business with a new venture called Vdio. Details are scarce at the moment but GigaOm reports that Friis has been quietly assembling an A-team of media and web technology experts to launch a site that would replicate the model behind its music streaming service Rdio in the video space.
Joost, Apache, NBC and Napster alumni will run the new venture, including former TV Guide president Ian Aaron (CEO), former Joost CTO Justin Erenkrantz (CTO), former Napster VP of Operations Scott Barrow (Senior VP of Operations), and Apache Foundation's Sander Striker (Senior VP of Engineering). Patrick Dodd, who also spent time at TV Guide and worked with Aaron at mobile entertainment specialist Twistbox, will be senior VP of Global Licensing.
Currently in closed beta, there's very little on the site right now besides a home screen that asks "Are you watching?" and flashes scenes from A-list movies and TV shows licensed by Warner Bros., AMC, Showtime, Sony and Fox, suggesting that Vdio has already secured some impressive content deals.
The service will launch in the United Kingdom initially and should eventually expand to other markets. Pricing details are unknown at this point but if we were to make a guess based on the Rdio music service, this new venture will likely be subscription-based and highly integrated with social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Rdio recently launched a free option to its music subscription service as well, which gives users free access to the Rdio catalog without displaying ads or asking to register with a credit card. It will be interesting to see if Vdio takes this same approach as it tries to get users interested in the service.
Vdio will take direct aim at Hulu and Netflix's dominance of the digital video streaming market and its timing couldn't be better given the rough couple of months the latter has had. Although there's still no launch date in sight for the new video streaming service, its owners didn't miss the opportunity to take a first swipe at its rival by saying that one of the differences between Vdio and Netflix will be that "people will love using Vdio."