NBC Unveils Online Video Marketplace

NBC Universal wants a piece of the exploding online video distribution business.

The media conglomerate, a joint venture of General Electric and Vivendi, on Tuesday announced the formation of a business-to-business marketplace for video clips that competes directly with online syndication services like Brightcove, and indirectly with direct-to-consumer video powerhouses like Google Video, Yahoo and YouTube.

The company said the venture, called nbbc (National Broadband Company), will serve as a clearinghouse for digital video content for more than 200 affiliate television stations and a high-profile group of third-party partners including Access Hollywood, CNET, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, About.com and the A&E network.

The idea is to host the video content in a single repository and allow affiliates and partners to distribute on their own Web sites via a customized video player. Content partners will maintain complete control over their video assets by selecting which participating sites can access their video. Advertising revenue will be split three ways between nbbc, content suppliers and Web publishers.

The company said syndication partners can pick from a menu of video content to be made available in the framework of the video player, allowing participants get a slice of the advertising pie while giving Web users a free, ad-supported video experience. The venture was launched with Procter & Gamble and JP Morgan Chase as initial advertisers.

The new syndication play brings NBC full circle on the subject of online video. In the wake of a well-publicized spat with YouTube earlier this year over the illegal distribution of video clips from its Saturday Night Live program, the two companies entered a promotional partnership under which YouTube agreed to feature clips from NBC shows. Now, with the launch of its own solution for digital video syndication, NBC has fully embraced the booming demand for free video content online.

The nbbc announcement coincides with news that Apple will use its popular iTunes Music Store to hawk new releases from Disney on the same day DVDs for those movies are released. Amazon.com and Time Warner’s AOL unit also sell movies and videos online.

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