Joost and Skype Co-Founder Is Back With 'Vdio'

Janus Friis has seen the future of online video.

And it’s a subscription-only world, man.

Friis and Niklas Zennström were the Scandinavian entrepreneurs behind Joost — the Internet TV venture that flamed out after raising more than $45 million from Viacom, CBS and others (see Joost Assets Acquired By Online-Ad Firm Adconian).

Their previous claims to fame were Skype, the Internet phone calling firm acquired by eBay, then spun off before being acquired by Microsoft this year for $8.5 billion; and Kazaa, a peer-to-peer file-sharing outfit that paid the music industry $100 million to settle copyright-infringement claims.

So — after trying peer-to-peer file-swapping and ad-supported free-to-consumer — it looks like Friis has figured out that the only business model that works for online video distribution is the one cable TV was founded on: subscriptions.

His stealth startup Vdio is gearing up to launch a subscription-based movie and TV video service in the U.K., according to a report by GigaOm. Details are scarce, but Vdio is promoting content from Lionsgate (Mad Men), Sony (Breaking Bad, Justified, A Few Good Men, The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters) and Showtime (The Tudors).

The difference between Vdio and Netflix and’s LoveFilm? “We think people will love using VDIO,” Vdio says in an e-mail to GigaOm.

Well, a few old movies and Mad Men aren’t going to tilt the playing field. It’s not clear what Vdio’s differentiation will be but you would hope they have another trick up their sleeve.

Vdio’s CEO is Ian Aaron, formerly CEO of mobile services provider Twistbox, president of  TV Guide Television Group and president and CEO of TVN Entertainment.


Programming Note! Don’t miss the Multichannel News breakfast panel discussion at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2011 in Atlanta, Video’s Next Act: Setting the Multiscreen Stage, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, prior to the opening general session. Click here for more info: