Now playing: New Paltalk Messenger screens original Web shows

Paltalk makes the switch from instant messaging platform to video content provider with a reworked chat client, now called PaltalkScene.

PaltalkScene adds video screening rooms for viewing, and voice and text chatting. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Picking what to watch on TV from the crowd of new season premieres just got more complicated. Webtainment is ramping up in a big way, with content both created by and for the public now playing on various outlets across the Internet. One such notable is the migration of Paltalk from a social network congealed through an IM client, to an online media network.

One with edgy aspirations at that. This fall, Paltalk will show several original series that have been produced to fit the updated chat platform, now called PaltalkScene (download here.) The updated application expands on Paltalk Messenger's existing multimedia capabilities with Screening Rooms--private and public chat spaces of up to 5,000 viewers where users can watch, voice chat, and instant message about uploaded user videos and Paltalk's new shows.

For Joel Smernoff, Paltalk's president and COO, the messenger upgrade and move from mere hosting to active programming hammers in Paltalk's stake in "socialcasting," which can be loosely defined as an interactive online experience that splices social networking attributes with online entertainment. "What that means is allowing multiple users to watch videos and interact with each other and with the guests in real time," Smernoff said in an interview.

Paltalk is upping the cool factor by gearing weekly shows toward its 4 million global users clustered in the 25-45 age range that's growing younger with the introduction of celebrity shows. Among the lineup are Hollywood Now, a celebrity gab hosted by RocketBoom's Joanne Colan, MusicScene, a live show featuring guest performances and interviews (R&B artist JoJo is slated to appear at 5 p.m. PDT) and the monthly LateNet with Ray Ellin, a New York comedian whose most recently interviewed Chevy Chase and cast from HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Also screening is a news and debate show, and a live chat with Maxim model Diana Falzone.

According to Smernoff, the real appeal of Paltalk's Screen Rooms is a technology that lets users chime in with voice and text chat, and Webcam use to ratchet up the personal connection. This open-for-commentary format laces the predictability of fixed-time shows with improvisation as the hosts and guests respond to comments from around the Web.

By example, guest Chevy Chase extended his 15-minute interview by a half hour during the Sept. 2 LateNet with Ray Ellin to answer and pose questions to Paltalk's Internet audience, whose contributions were beamed onto the wall of New York City's Gotham Comedy Club, where the show broadcasted.

Paltalk's Web site has the full schedule of shows.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.