Jeff Zucker, President of NBC Universal and Peter Chernin, President of News Corporation officially announced and described their grandiose vision of what they claim will be the largest Internet video distribution network.
The site will debut this summer with thousands of hours of full-length programming, movies and clips, representing content from a dozen networks and two major film studios. The site will offer free long- and short-form video from 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.
The site will also include 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.
The content will be available free, on an ad-supported basis. Charter advertisers include Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco, Esurance, Intel and General Motors.
"This is a game changer for Internet video," said Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation. "We'll have access to just about the entire U.S. 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."
"Anyone who believes in the value of ubiquitous distribution will find this announcement incredibly exciting," said Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal. "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."
As for the social networking aspect, the new site will include personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and video search.
AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo! will be the new site's initial distribution partners. What's this you ask? Well it appears that a lot of the details haven't been worked out by the remarks made below but according to the news, each distribution partner will feature the site's content in an embedded player customized with a look and feel consistent with each site.
Here's what Microsoft, Yahoo, and MySpace all had to say. Notably, many of them put in their 2 cents about how the new site will "protect intellectual property."
"This partnership is completely aligned with our continued investment in video on MSN and will allow hundreds of millions of our consumers to tune into a vast library of high-quality, safe and legal online video," said Kevin Johnson, President, Platform and Services Division, Microsoft. "Our alliance proves that you can deliver quality online video entertainment and protect intellectual property and copyright at the same time. We look forward to working together to explore additional opportunities to distribute this content across other Microsoft services and devices."
"By delivering the new site's content to our more than 65 million users, we can build on MySpace's position as a leading destination for online video, and enable content creators to tap into the power of social networking," said Peter Levinsohn, President of Fox Interactive Media. "The ability to embed video clips within over 160 million profile pages will empower members of the MySpace community to view, share and truly interact with some of the entertainment world's most popular content."
"We are excited to be a part of this landmark partnership that connects people to the content they care about. As the most visited site in the U.S., this deal gives Yahoo!'s users unprecedented access to their favorite shows and offers them engaging content in a premium video format," said Terry Semel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo! Inc. "We believe that this relationship underscores Yahoo!'s respect for content owners and copyrights and positions us as one of the premier distribution sites on the Web for entertainment programming."
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 a 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.