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Thursday, June 28, 2007

CEO Hired for NBC/News Corp. 'YouTube Killer' ... and More on NBC's Future Plans

I hate to keep using the term 'YouTube Killer' to describe this venture, since it really sets it up to fail... but you probably know the project I'm talking about: the joint venture between News Corp. and NBC to create a new video site, in partnership with AOL, Comcast, MSN, and CNET.

They've just hired a CEO: Jason Kilar, a veteran of Amazon.com and Disney.

The upside: he is young (36). The potential downside: the venture will be based in LA, and it won't launch until "later this year," according to the release. That's sorta vague. (Update: the internal goal for launch is September.) And Kilar's experience is mostly in e-commerce: selling actual physical goods like DVDs and CDs. Clearly, though, he must know how to manage software developers after almost a decade at Amazon.

We'll see how this goes. I'm sure it will be, uh, fun to report to a board of directors that includes Peter Chernin of News Corp. and Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal.

More from PaidContent. Om Malik reported yesterday that the joint venture is trying to raise $100 million, and not having much luck so far.

From the release:

    "As a team, we have a unique opportunity to create great customer experience through the combination of innovative technology and high quality content," commented Mr. Kilar. "In the process, I believe we can play a significant role influencing how consumers find, discover, and participate in premium content over the web. This is a big, inherently fun mission with which I'm proud and very excited to be associated."

    Mr. Kilar began his career at the Walt Disney Company, where he spent two years with Disney Development Corporation (1993-95).

    He received his M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School in 1997...

Update: Coincidentally, just after I posted this, I had a chance to sit down for a quick coffee with a PR exec from NBC Universal. She mentioned that NBC is getting ready to open a "product lab" out here in Silicon Valley, with the goal of developing relationships with interesting tech companies. It'll be staffed by just one person to start with. NBC also may take a minority stake in some companies through its Peacock Equity Fund; one early investment was the ad serving network Adify.

She noted that the NBC/News Corp. joint venture site, which is yet to be named, will eventually sell shows (a la iTunes), but probably not at the launch. Right now, iTunes is the only place where NBC sells its content.

Another interesting tidbit from our conversation: while NBC is the fourth-ranked network right now according to Nielsen, it occupies half of the spots on the iTunes list of top 100 TV shows. ('The Office,' and 'Heroes' are well represented.)

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