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Skype founder’s TV service goes into beta

Vdio, the new online TV venture from Skype co-founder Janus Friis, has launched in closed beta in the US and the UK.

The service will run a transactional model, allowing users to rent or buy movies and TV shows, pitting it against the likes of Tesco-owned Blinkbox in the UK and Walmart-owned Vudu in the US.

By not opting for the subscription model favoured by services like Netflix and LoveFilm, Vdio will be able to license newly released content and already has deals in place with the major Hollywood studios.

Speaking to C21 last month, Vdio CEO Ian Aaron described the still in-development site as an iTunes-style service but for streamed content. Aaron was formerly president of TV Guide and is also co-founder and CEO of social TV firm ConnecTV.

Details were revealed by the GigaOm web blog last year, which also got the jump on the latest developments. Vdio was initially to go live in the UK first but now appears set for a simultaneous launch in the US and UK.

The service, in both its name and branding, resembles Rdio, the digital music service that Friis launched in August 2010. Though both firms are understood to share many staff, it is still not clear how the two will fit together in the future.

Atomico-backed Rdio is a cloud-based music service that, like Spotify, gives users access to songs for a monthly fee. It is headquartered in San Francsico but is now available in more than a dozen countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany and Australia.

Friis, along with former business partner Niklas Zennström, co-founded Skype and before that peer-to-peer file sharing application Kazaa. EBay’s acquisition of Skype in 2005 made the pair billionaires.

Both were also involved in the early days of Joost, an earlier online video venture that eventually collapsed and had its assets sold to online video advertising specialist Adconion.

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