US TV giant Viacom International - whose channels include MTV and Comedy Central - has signed an agreement to provide its shows on Joost , the new on-demand IPTV service from the men behind Skype .

The deal means that Joost will be able to offer shows from MTV , BET Networks , and Comedy Central , as well as Paramount Pictures films, for free on its website. It opens up the service to a wider range of programming than before.

Viacom recently told video-sharing website YouTube to take down all its Viacom content or risk being sued. It now looks like the reason was that the Joost deal was imminent.

Joost will be powered by a secure, piracy-proof, interactive internet platform that guarantees copyright protection for content owners and creators.

The service will carry TV-like ads and will use peer-to-peer technology to distribute broadcast-quality video content.

"People are looking for increased choice and flexibility in their TV experience, while the entertainment industry needs to retain control over their content," said Fredrik de Wahl, chief executive officer of Joost.

De Wahl added that during the first six months of the service, anyone who wants to download Joost will be able to do so and start using the service. At the same time, it will start offering Viacom's content to its users.

Co-founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the Joost service is currently in beta stage, with some 20,000 users currently testing the service. Available for both PC and Mac, Joost is free to use for anyone with a broadband.