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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The site with no name: NBC and News Corp. announce new video joint venture

So NBC and News Corp. are getting together to develop a video site.

Here's the coverage from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and LA Times.

Listening now to the live conference call with Peter Chernin of News Corp. and Jeff Zucker from NBC Universal.

The joint venture, or the site that it will launch sometime this summer, has no name yet. They refer to it as "NewCo."

Why is that a big deal?

Because it hints at how difficult it is for two or more big companies to decide on anything (like a name), let alone actually build anything.

Chernin and Zucker make all the right noises: Web 2.0 functionality, consumer control, mash-ups are OK, embedding in personal pages, etc. Also, the site will protect copyright and help content owners earn money from advertising. They want to make it the "biggest video destination on the Web," Chernin says, and "we are in discussion with other content owners right now," who want to be "treated fairly" and have their content protection. There will also be movies for sale on this site, most as electronic sell-through (paid downloads), but perhaps some older titles studded with advertising. Some full episode TV shows may also be paid downloads, likely the same stuff you pay for on iTunes. Pricing will be similar to sites like Movielink, CinemaNow, and iTunes.

Importantly, there is some key content you won't see on this site -- like 'American Idol.' Fox doesn't control the Internet rights for its biggest hit.

Six factors that would make this venture successful:

    1. Launching sooner rather than later
    2. Lots of content
    3. Inobtrusive advertising (IE, not the 15 second pre-roll ad that takes 30 seconds to start playing and then segue into the clip you want)
    4. Copious promotion
    5. More content partners (and that includes welcoming in independent content producers, not just the Viacoms, Time-Warners, or Disneys)
    6. Really sharp software developers

Will this unnamed joint venture be able to hit all six of those marks? I'm skeptical, but we'll see in a few months.

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