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Babelgum shunts user generated crap

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Joost and Babelgum are two new start-ups that deliver TV-quality streaming to broadband-connected PCs. They're so similar it's hard not to think of them as Tweedlegum and Tweedlejoost. But already there are signs which one has the better prospects of success.

While Joost came out in a blaze of New Age Web 2.0 gwana-gwana * - in an interview with The Register, Frederick de Wahl, the CEO, constantly referred to his "Long Tail servers" - Babelgum is taking a more shrewd approach to market.

The company is eschewing the vogue for user-generated novelty and signing up real talent. The latest name to be revealed is movie director Spike Lee, who will make an exclusive video called Jesus Children of America for Babelgum.

When the two services launched, we suspected that the real impact of the new delivery systems was to free independent producers from the commissioning gatekeepers at channels. Babelgum appears to think so, too.

Joost this week signed up for $45m more investment from Sequoia Capital and others; Babelgum meanwhile is backed by Silvio Scaglia, the billionaire founder of Italian telco Fastweb.

Question marks remain about both of the services: they require a fair bit of faffing around, and make even today's multichannel digital TV services look straightforward. But Babelgum clearly thinks that 'Content is King'. This sounds a better prospect for success than 'media revolutions' that require cats to fall down stairs.

Now the hypesters behind "user generated content" appear to realize the game is up. In the UK, they're lobbying for a £100m public handout to commission new "UGC". This is a sure sign that the case for a cat-powered business model has been found wanting. ®

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