joostbitt.bmpJoost and BitTorrent, two start-ups focused on bringing video to your home using cheap peer-to-peer communication networks, are making progress.

Joost, the company launched by the co-founders of popular Internet phone company Skype, announced a deal with Viacom to bring a range of Viacom content (from properties like MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures) for free to its TV platform. Joost is still in testing mode. But the agreement is significant, because it brings content to the Web that hasn’t been available before, from shows like Laguna Beach to Beavis & Butthead and Real World. Viacom also passed up Google/YouTube in negotiations, apparently because Google couldn’t assure Viacom copyright protection. Moreover, Joost is responding to the key criticism of its efforts so far, i.e., that it doesn’t have any content agreements signed. Joost is offering high-quality video to bring to your TV set.

San Francisco’s BitTorrent, meanwhile, said it has cut deals with 40 studios, production houses and game publishers, and that it will make a major announcement this week (see story by the Merc’s Elise Ackerman here).

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