Veoh Launching New Online TV Service; Takes Streams From Content Sites Directly Into Its Player

veohplayerchannelsSo Veoh’s raising of a big $26 million and above round now makes more sense, or at least we know what their plans and hopes are: it is launching VeohTV, an ambitious and slightly controversial attempt at trying to bring TV-like lean-back (I would say more Media Center like than TV) experience. For now the service has launched as invitation beta only.

This comes as PEHub reported last week that the Michael Eisner-backed company raised $26 million in its third round funding, with Goldman Sachs led the deal, and was joined by return backers like Spark Capital and Shelter Capital Partners. My understanding is that the round may include more investors, perhaps strategics. More after the jump

Anyway, to the service: VeohTV is positioned as a video browser, meaning it can pull in video feeds from other sites, Veoh CEO Dmitry Shapiro explained to me last week in a demo of the service. The downloadable player, for example, can pull in videos from ABC.com, without ABC’s own player (and without ABC’s permission), and be played in Veoh’s player. This could be controversial as content companies may want to keep their own branding and player experience. Shapiro says the player is akin to a browser which displays text…this one searches and displays videos. It organizes these videos in channels, as the picture on the right shows, attempting to mirror a TV IPG. There are other things like organizing favorites, search and browse from other sites within the player, widgets to be embedded in the player experience, and other features. It will also save videos from sites that allow downloading, for instance video podcasts and others.

Shapiro said they have been talking to content companies, and would probably be cutting deals with some of them soon. It will sell ads within the IPG and create more branded experiences for companies that have a deal with it.

Will this work? Well, this is convenient, for sure, and a guide with full screen experience is a familiar experience. For now, it is Veoh’s “let’s-throw-everything-in-this-and-see-what-sticks” phase with this idea. It is a more random way to develop a service, than say Joost, since the Veoh player/guide is only as good as the content out there (and quality as good as the quality out there as well), and I’m sure there are ways in which media companies can restrict the playing experience outside of their own branded players. In Joost case, it is a closed ecosystem, while VeohTV lives off the open Internet.

Then others, some with more brand visibility than Veoh, could jump into the fray. One such (not necessarily bigger though), is Blinkx, which B2.0 reports is working on a similar P2P client called Blinkx Broadband TV, that will show full-screen videos from Web video sites that it already indexes along with targeted ads.

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