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Verizon Revs Web Video

Verizon Communications plans to give its FiOS TV subscribers access to Web sites through the television set later this year, allowing them to surf the Internet with a few clicks of the remote control.

The telephone company is negotiating agreements with “dozens” of Web sites to replicate their pages on its video-on-demand platform, director of FiOS TV product management Joe Ambealt said in an interview Friday.

Verizon announced its first agreement with an Internet company for FiOS TV last week, striking a deal with Revver.com, a Web site that relies heavily on user-generated videos.

AD SHARING

Revver, which shares ad revenue generated from its Web site with amateur producers that submit videos, will also share a portion of its ad revenue with Verizon, Revver CEO Steven Starr said.

“It's a big win for the [content] creators and for us,” Starr said.

Ambeault said content from Revver and many other Web sites won't be available to FiOS TV customers until some time “later this year.” In addition to needing to seal agreements with several Web sites, Verizon also must format their pages for the FiOS TV platform, Ambeault said.

Verizon is negotiating agreements with dozens of Web sites from many genres, including news, sports, international content and weather, Ambeault said. The only genre Verizon has ruled out is adult content, he added, citing concerns about its ability to prevent children from viewing the material.

Several content categories from Revver will be available to FiOS TV customers, including “Editor's Picks,” “Viral Video Classics,” “Extreme Sports,” “Laughs,” “Animation” and “Cute Overdose.”

FiOS TV subscribers will be able to access the Web content with their remote controls through the service's video-on-demand platform.

The company is deploying a new interactive program guide, which relies partly on software provided by Microsoft, which will allow viewers to search for Internet content in addition to TV programming, movies, games and music.

Verizon is the first U.S. pay TV provider to reach an agreement with Revver. Starr said Revver also supplies its user-generated content to British channel Fame TV, which reaches 8 million subscribers on BSkyB's satellite platform in the United Kingdom.

As some pay TV providers are looking to supply Web content to subscribers, programming networks are also looking to expand their reach through Internet distribution.

JOOST DEAL

Viacom cut a broad licensing deal last week with Joost to supply content from its MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures units to the Internet startup.

The deal came just two weeks after MTVN ordered top viral video Web site YouTube to pull thousands of clips from MTVN programs from its site.

Joost — which plans to launch its ad-supported Internet-programming service during the first half of 2007 — obtained the rights to programs including MTV's Laguna Beach, Beavis & Butt-Head and The Real World; Comedy Central's Stella, Comedy Central Presents and Freak Show; VH1's Flavor of Love, The Surreal Life and I Love New York; and several shows from CMT, MTV2, Logo, Spike TV, mtvU and GameTrailers.com.

Joost, which is currently running tests of its service, is based on peer-to-peer technology, where thousands or millions or computers of individual subscribers help distribute its content, via the Internet.

The company is backed by Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, who sold the Internet phone company to eBay last year for $2.6 billion.

Joost, previously called The Venice Project, was renamed in January.