If it’s not another acquisition, it’s a distribution deal, and yesterday it was CBS and Dow Jones Online that announced deals to push their content across the Web. CBS has expanded its sweeping Audience Network to include video networks Brightcove, Videoegg and viral news video network Voxant. Dow Jones Online also joined Voxant’s roster of content providers.
CBS announced pacts with several new partners to add social tools to its Web video network, which offers programs including “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Late Night with David Letterman.” Also part of its audience network evolution, CBS signed agreements with a variety of blogging software, widget and instant messaging platform providers including Clearspring, MeeVee and meebo.
The partners will allow users to use CBS news, sports and entertainment clips in their own blogs and profile pages or on community sites. The video network offers programs including “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Late Night with David Letterman.”
Brightcove, which already manages syndication of CBS news content, such as “The Early Show” on CBS affiliate Web sites, and is among its first wave of Audience Network partners, will enable users to grab CBS clips and embed them on their own sites. CBS content has also been available for viewing on Brightcove’s site.
Clips embedded on users’ MySpace pages or blogs, however, won’t be ad-supported, unlike the programming distributed through original Audience Network publisher partners like AOL, Microsoft, Comcast, Joost and others, according to Patrick Keane, CBS Interactive EVP and CMO. “We want to make sure we’re not flooding these sites with ads or flooding these sites with grossly commercial content,” he said.
In regards to running ads in user-embedded clips, “CBS has the option to do that” through Brightcove, added Brightcove VP of Marketing and Strategy Adam Berrey. CBS is experimenting with some ad-supported embeddable clips, though.
The company recently began providing news from its CBS News and Television Stations Group through Voxant’s ad network, which allows users to grab clips from its own library, and after they’ve been added to other sites, including blogs. The CBS Television Stations Group includes 13 affiliates in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other local markets. CBS handles most ad sales for its Audience Network, and will share ad sales duties with Voxant.
“The biggest thing I’m finding in the market is the distinction between quality news content and consumer-generated content,” said Voxant VP of Advertising Susan Briglia. “That’s really what is making the difference right now for us in the marketplace.”
Voxant’s monitoring system alerts content providers if an affiliate environment is deemed questionable, and provides ways for them to remove their content from inappropriate affiliate sites. The firm has around 175 content providers and 2,000 distribution partners, and allows anyone visiting those sites to grab its ad-supported, licensed video clips, images or articles and place them on their own sites. The company offers pre-roll and banner ads, including pre-roll ads that run before image slideshows.
Dow Jones Online also announced yesterday it will provide 150 clips each month to Voxant from its vault of Wall Street Journal Online, MarketWatch.com and Barron’s Online videos, rotating older clips with newer clips. Dow Jones already uses Brightcove’s platform to serve ad-supported video content on its own sites, and distributes its video through the Brightcove ad network. According to a Dow Jones Online spokesperson, the new Voxant partnership doesn’t affect its relationship with Brightcove.
News Corporation and NBC Universal also aligned recently to push their content onto sites including AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo.
The question remains how much value, particularly in terms of ad revenue, media companies like CBS will garner through such distribution deals. “Compensation doesn’t equal minimal compensation,” said CBS’s Keane. “In general, we want to see…the right opportunities to monetize this kind of stuff.”
Brightcove’s Berrey added, “The programmers today are, frankly, a little bit ahead of the ad sales teams….In the cases where ad sales teams are checked in, we’re seeing some success.”
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