Skype Founder Unveils Netflix Competitor

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Watch out, Netflix: There’s a new player in the online video space, with the kind of past history that should probably make you a little nervous. Introducing VDIO, the new streaming video-on-demand service from the people who brought you Skype. And Napster. And Apache. You’ll find some Microsoft veterans in there, too.

Gigaom originally noticed the existence of Vdio.com, a site that invited users to login via Facebook to watch movies like The Dark Knight and the Karate Kid remake, as well as television shows like Mad Men and The Tudors. American users were told that the site was only available in the UK right now, something later explained as being part of a closed beta test for the service.

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After Gigaom’s discovery, the service sent out a brief Q&A confirming its existence, describing itself as a privately-funded service that “lets you instantly watch the best in TV and movies right now.” It’s based in Santa Monica and Europe, started by Skype founder Janus Friis, and involves “a team with experience from Skype, Napster, Microsoft, TV Guide, and Apache” running things behind the scenes.

The question of pricing was avoided in the release (“The pricing will be announced at a later time,” says VDIO), and it remains to be seen exactly what will differentiate this service from Netflix and Hulu; the Q&A only offers the passive-aggressive suggestion that “We think people will love using VDIO.” But given apparent partnerships with Warner Bros., Sony, AMC and Showtime and the experience of Friis’ previous ventures, this is probably something to take seriously…especially considering the problems Netflix and Hulu have found themselves in lately.

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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