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Summary:

Now here’s some unusual logic: ask people to pay $3.99 for online video they may be able to see free and ad-supported elsewhere. Charge them more — $5.99 for two to five people, $7.99 for six to ten — if they want to watch it simultaneously […]

Now here’s some unusual logic: ask people to pay $3.99 for online video they may be able to see free and ad-supported elsewhere. Charge them more — $5.99 for two to five people, $7.99 for six to ten — if they want to watch it simultaneously with friends (on different computers).

That’s what Lycos, the aging search portal owned by Daum, wants to do with its relaunched Lycos Cinema product. The key technology here is for scheduling a time for a viewing session, and then text chatting during the viewing session. Real jaw-dropping stuff.

Chuck Ball, vice president of sales and marketing for Lycos, told us he thinks the future of online video is paid content. “Going forward we look at the ad-supported side of this business as the very early days of cable where the audience hasn’t shown up yet,” he said last week. I respectfully disagree, but that doesn’t mean this product isn’t worth a second look. See, for instance, its implementation with free episodes of ABC’s series Greek (screenshot above).

Ball said he has no major studios signed for Lycos Cinema, though he hopes they will come on soon. Currently available content includes National Lampoon webisodes, ProElite mixed martial arts videos, and Vanguard Cinema independent films.

Despite our skepticism about paying to hang out with our friends, we think the idea of simultaneous viewing is promising — even if other startups in the space haven’t panned out (see below). Business models are easy enough to switch out. Lycos is trialing “viewing parties” for ABC’s series Greek; fans can watch free episodes together after midnight the day they air. The service is linked off ABC’s official Greek page. This white-label approach seems much more interesting.

Ball also pointed out that Lycos still has an audience of 20 million uniques — maybe some of them will be interested in watching movies together.

Probably the best group video viewing product is Meebo Rooms, and others include Paltalk and YouTube. We’ve written about a couple other competitors — SideKlick and ClipSync — but their sites appeared to be defunct when we checked tonight. Update: ClipSync says has taken down its destination in favor of licensing its software to other sites (none of which are live yet).

  1. Joost has a hidden feature with Time Based channels they call Beat Channels that allow for simultaneous viewing and it was pushed out with version 10.3 .

    Now I I cant rember how to create a Beat Channel but if I remeber it was with a specialy formed URL .

    Lycos are kidding themselves if people will pay for this new feature ,Ad Supported is gaining traction becuse pay per view (electronic sell through) on the Web doesnt work and many companies that thought that it would have failed .

    The only company that does EST well is Apple and its only to prop up thier electonic consumer goods bussiness .

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  2. [...] Paltalk has similar video-plus-webcam functionality, but it requires a download. Other entrants with some of the same functionality include Clipsync, Meebo and Lycos. [...]

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  3. [...] is currently being used by ABC Family to create viewing parties around its show Greek. ABC Family had been using Lycos for social viewing. (The network did not provide a reason for switching vendors in time for our [...]

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