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Monday, November 13, 2006

New Lycos Cinema Site Brings Jabbering to Net Movie Watching

Lycos Cinema doesn't have the greatest catalog of content, and it only works on PCs running a recent edition of Internet Explorer. But the idea of watching movies online with a group of friends, and chatting throughout, is a good one.


From Hiawatha Bray's story in today's Boston Globe:


    The new Lycos Cinema site, which is being launched today, at cinema.lycos.com, offers hundreds of low-budget independent films for viewing free of charge.


    But unlike other video sites, Lycos Cinema will also provide a built-in chat room feature that lets groups of movie buffs watch the same film simultaneously, no matter where they are.


    Up to 10 friends can make a date to meet at the site and watch a film. All the video streams are synchronized so that each of them views the same scenes at the same time. And they can type messages to one another, ranging from friendly chit-chat to wry wisecracks about the film.


    "For the most part, our competitors are focusing on how to make the video-on-demand paradigm better," said Lycos's chief operating officer, Brian Kalinowski . "They've done nothing to create community." The goal of Lycos Cinema, he said, "was to create community around peoples' desire to watch and interact around video content."


And from Lycos' press release, a bit more about how it works:

    LYCOS Cinema lets users host their own Screening Rooms, inviting others to watch high-quality video content, while the host of the room controls the video experience. Screening Room hosts can pause, rewind and fast-forward video streams, and most importantly, chat with other Screening Room viewers. Users can view profiles of other guests in the Screening Room audience and build buddy lists for future watch and chat sessions. Users may also congregate in virtual lobbies within the LYCOS Cinema environment, browsing lists of available screenings, conversing with other users with whom they can watch and chat. For added privacy, Screening Room hosts can password-protect screenings, making watch and chat sessions available by invitation only.


    Future product enhancements will allow users to rate, review, post questions and recommend content. Additional features will enable independent film producers and high-quality content providers to upload videos while moderated chat capabilities make director, actor or subject expert chats a reality.