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CES 2012: MySpace re-emerges as OTT TV service with Panasonic

MySpace is being rescued from the dustbin of irrelevancy by the unlikely team-up of Panasonic and Justin Timberlake.

Sometime in the first half of the year, it will resurface as 'MySpace TV,' an over the top (OTT) app that will be found on new Panasonic VIERA Connect-enabled HDTVs and on tablets and smartphones.

True to the roots of the original Web service, the app will bring together social networking and user-generated content with a special focus on music across a variety of 'channels.' In addition to whatever its members may bring to the table in that regard, MySpace still has a library of 100,000 music videos and 42 million songs to leverage. And eventually, movies, news, sports and reality channels will populate the app as well.

Even though MySpace has been held up as the poster child for what happens when you're suddenly not hip anymore, its stakeholders believe the redux will give the aging service a new lease on life.

"MySpace was the first successful social network because it allowed individuals to share their interests, listen to music, express their creativity and connect around the things they love," said MySpace CEO Tim Vanderhook in a statement. "Historically, TV has been a shared experience, as people gathered together to watch their favorite programs. Our belief was that we could enhance the TV experience by increasing viewers' ability to connect to both content and each other. By partnering with Panasonic, we're bringing together the content that people love and a social experience in one service: MySpace TV."

Members will be able to chat with friends, share shows and Internet videos, and see what's popular among other Myspace TV viewers, all while watching live TV. There are other services that do the same thing, notably Miso, which is working with service providers like DirecTV and AT&T to provide social TV capabilities, but high-profile hardware integration and an almost-universally recognised brand-name could mean that MySpace could help social TV as much as next-gen TV can help MySpace.

Justin Timberlake took the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show to lend some cachet to the launch. He's also an investor: he invested in MySpace last year after News Corp. sold the service to Specific Media for $35 million in mid-2011.

“This is the evolution of one of our greatest inventions, the television,” he said. “To the millions of Myspace users, we want to thank you for sticking with us in this shift."

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