Murdoch Discusses Future of MySpace.com

  |  January 10, 2006   |  Comments

Rupert Murdoch dished on enhancements to MySpace.com and its potential transformation into a next-generation portal.

For the first time, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch talked about plans for the future of MySpace.com, which include international expansion and possible outsourcing of ad sales. News Corp. acquired MySpace's parent in July for $580 million.

Speaking at the Citigroup Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference, Murdoch discussed evolving MySpace.com into a next-generation portal.

"I think [the current portal] model is in danger of becoming out of date," he said. "Young people today -- who are the great users of the Internet -- know exactly what sites they want to go to and they go there, they don't have to work their way through Yahoo's homepage, or MSN." Later he added, "It [MySpace] certainly won't be a traditional portal."

Murdoch detailed enhancements that will take MySpace into more portal-like offerings. The community site will begin to offer free video downloads this week. Upcoming enhancements include the launch of a branded instant messenger client, which was originally developed for IGN.com. Voice capabilities will come in the future, Murdoch promised.

News Corp. also plans to expand the site internationally. "We're taking it out around the world," he said. "First in Britain, then in Western Europe, and then in other countries."

But even as it stands now, Murdoch bragged that MySpace has a lot to offer advertisers.

"We've got the biggest mass of unsold inventory," said Murdoch. "We have the third most page views of the Internet in America."

MySpace.com had 24.5 million unique visitors in November of 2005, according to Nielsen//NetRatings data. While that isn't a dramatic number, the average user spent more than two hours on the site. That's why MySpace.com boasts the number three rank by page views, with nearly 14 billion for the month of November. It falls just behind Yahoo and eBay, and ahead of MSN and Google.

To address the unsold inventory issue, Murdoch said the company has met with ad networks to "judge whether they can sell it better than we can."

Murdoch said the Internet became attractive to News Corp. with the emergence of broadband and strengthening of advertising on the Web.

"About 12 months ago we saw the explosion of broadband which made the Internet a totally different experience," said Murdoch. "We could also begin to see and feel advertising in traditional media…was pretty flat. So that was a wake-up call."

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