Among their various pursuits, Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom have a new company, called The Venice Project, focused on advertising-supported TV and video over the Internet, based on peer-to-peer technology. As they get closer to a product launch, they're getting increasing coverage, culminating in an interview and resulting article (subscription required) in today's Financial Times.
As usual the western press appears to have no knowledge of what's been going on in China. I've commented on the problem before, in the context of instant messaging. In the case of peer-to-peer TV, there are at least two Chinese services, PPLive and PPStream, that have been running for nearly two years. PPLive grew out of work done at HuaZhong University of Science and Technology in WuHan in 2004. They launched services as PPLive in January 2005 and I stumbled on them in mid-2005 when they got some press coverage in Hong Kong. According to their website, their software was downloaded 20 million times in their first 12 months of operation.
Of the two services, PPLive is easier for a westerner to view as they have English on their website and an English option for their software's GUI. They've also acquired fans in the west, some of whom provide further information for those not proficient in Chinese. There are also English Wikipedia entries for PPLive and PPStream.
None of this is to disparage the Venice Project. If the Skype founders' track record is maintained, the Venice Project should be an extremely interesting service, and it should "just work." I've certainly signed up to participate in their beta.