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NBC, News Corp. Form Web Network

22 Mar, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Seeking to usurp YouTube's social video networking domination and better control dissemination of its own content online, NBC Universal and News Corp. this summer will bow a Web-based video network.

The unnamed ad-supported network will be available on AOL, Microsoft's MSN, MySpace and Yahoo! — distribution both companies say represents 96% of unique monthly Internet visitors in the United States.

The network, which initially will be headed by George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer at NBC Universal, will offer full episodes and clips from TV programming such as “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,” among others.

In addition to personalized video playlists, mash-ups, online communities and video search, the site will feature movies such as Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, The Devil Wears Prada, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, including bonus materials and movie trailers.

Future plans include acquiring additional content as well as producing and licensing original programming for the site's audience.

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” said Peter Chernin, president and COO of News Corp.

Early advertisers include General Motors Corp., Intel Corp., and Cadbury Schweppes PLC, according to a statement.

Chernin said the key to the network will be the media companies' ability to offer professionally produced video on the Web, a comment perhaps directed toward YouTube, which has been a flashpoint for studios alleging copyright infringement of their content by users.

Viacom Inc. recently sued the Google-owned site for $1 billion in damages.

Despite the network not accommodating user-generated content and its appearance of circumventing YouTube's community appeal, Richard Doherty, media analyst with The Envisioneering Group, said the partnership represents a “dream team” of media companies underscoring the legitimacy of the Internet as full-fledged entertainment medium.

“The majority of video content on social network sites is repurposed content belonging to others,” Doherty said.

He said the pairing of NBC and News Corp. represented a major step likely to be emulated by other content players.

“Sony TV content is available on iTunes,” Doherty said. “You wouldn't have seen that a year ago.”

Separately, activist organization MoveOn.org and Brave New Films LLC sued Viacom, claiming the media company illegally asked YouTube to remove its parody video of Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report.”

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