NBC, News Corp team up to take on Youtube

MUMBAI: In what can be seen as an effort to offer an alternative to the video sharing site Youtube, US media conglomerates NBC Universal and News Corp have joined forces to launch an internet video distribution network with content from television and film.

The video-rich site will debut this summer with thousands of hours of full-length programming, movies and clips, representing premium content from at least a dozen networks and two major film studios.


AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo! will be the new site’s initial distribution partners. Their users, who represent 96 per cent of the monthly U.S. unique users on the Internet, will have unlimited access to the site’s content. This media alliance will offer consumers free long- and short-form video and create a compelling platform for advertisers, targeting the rapidly growing audience of online video consumers. Charter advertisers include Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco, Esurance, Intel and General Motors.

News Corp president and COO Peter Chernin says, “This is a game changer for Internet video. We’ll have access to just about the entire US Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want -- professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live. We’re excited about the potential for this alliance and we’re looking forward to working with any content provider or distributor who wants to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.”

NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker sats, “Anyone who believes in the value of ubiquitous distribution will find this announcement incredibly exciting. This venture supercharges our distribution of protected, quality content to fans everywhere. Consumers get a hugely attractive aggregation of a wide range of content, and marketers get a novel way to connect with a large and highly engaged audience.”


At launch, full episodes and clips from shows, including 24, House, The Simpsons will be available free, on an ad-supported basis, within an experience featuring personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and video search. In addition the programming lineup will include films like Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, The Devil Wears Prada w ith bonus materials and movie trailers. Post-launch, plans will be considered for acquiring additional content as well as producing and licensing original programming for the new site’s audience.

Its launch distribution partners will provide the biggest potential reach of any player on the Internet. Moreover, the new site will actively seek agreements with a variety of additional distribution partners.

AOL chairman and CEO Randy Falco says, “This new venture is further proof that the Internet is now a full-fledged entertainment medium, and we are delighted to serve as a major online distribution partner for the quality content produced by these media powerhouses, as well as a provider of strategic services to the new venture".

Each distribution partner will feature the site’s content in an embedded player customized with a look and feel consistent with each site, making the offering organic to each destination. The new company will offer innovative advertising sales propositions by being able to sell cross-platform -- on-air and on-line. Post-launch, sites affiliated with founding companies, including iVillage and IGN, will also have the opportunity to become distribution partners.

The new company will be located in New York and Los Angeles. A transitional management team led by NBC Universal’s Chief Digital Officer George Kliavkoff, along with an experienced group of executives from NBC Universal and News Corporation, will work together to launch the site. The company’s permanent management will be announced shortly, along with branding details and additional advertising partners. Each company will devote a significant marketing and promotional budget to the new site’s launch.

News Corporation and NBC Universal are creating this strategic alliance at a time when internet users and advertisers are embracing online video as never before. In January, there were 123 million unique video streamers and downloaders (comScore Video Metrix). In 2005, video streams totaled nearly 18 billion, and that amount is expected to triple by 2010 (AccuStream iMedia Research, 2006). And research firm eMarketer estimates $410 million was spent on online video advertising in 2006, an amount that is expected to almost double this year.


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