NBC, News Corp. ink deal with Internet cos

MUMBAI: News Corporation and NBC Universal will launch the largest Internet video distribution network ever assembled with the most sought-after content from television and film. The announcement was made by NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker and News Corporation president and COO Peter Chernin.

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 US unique users on the Internet, will have unlimited access to the site’s vast library of 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.

At launch, full episodes and clips from current hit shows, including Heroes, 24, House, My Name Is Earl, Saturday Night Live, Friday Night Lights, The Riches, 30 Rock, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, Prison Break, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader and Top Chef, plus hits from the studios’ television libraries, will be available free, on an ad-supported basis, within a rich consumer experience featuring personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and video search.

Plus, the programming lineup will include fan favorite films like Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, Devil Wears Prada, The Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy with 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.

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.