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Blip.TV has entered one of the hottest markets in OTT: Original online video. Following the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon, Sony’s Crackle – to name just a few – Blip.TV is now in the original content business.
The site went from a user-generated online video site destination to a TV-like, curated, premium online video destination over the past year, and now serves as both a content aggregator and a content provider.
Blip.TV CEO Kelly Day announced the company will be funding original content from its content creators, and the company has announced that a number of exclusive content deals signed with a few of the big wigs of YouTube’s premium content experiment – such as My Damn Channel and FremantleMedia.
Blip.TV has been around since 2005, offering a platform for independent creators to distribute and monetize Web videos. The company receives between 250-300 million video views a month, globally, and is available on mobile apps, Xbox, iOS and Android tablets, and Roku, and is available through browser and on other online platforms like AOL and Yahoo!
While the world of online video has matured a bit, Blip has experienced its own evolution. Gone are the days of an open platform, offering “user-generated” content, in the basest sense of the phrase. Now, Blip is delivering a unique, TV-like experience online. The content is premium, professional, and episodic and ad-supported.
Day was formerly EVP of communications at Discovery Communications, and that TV background no doubt explains in part Blip’s new energy in mimicking the TV model online. She has described Blip in past interviews as a television business that shares generously with content creators.
The result is a network-like video destination with channels, series and Web celebrities. Blip as a content aggregator organizes its videos into genres, such as animation, comedy, drama, food, tech and others. The breadth of content hits a few different demographics, including the elusive 18-25 male demo with sci-fi and gaming-focused content, including the very popular gamer competition show, “The Gauntlet”, some post-apocalyptic fun such as “Allegiance of Powers” and a comedy gem “Vampire Mob,” which boosts of a cast from a diverse TV background, including shows “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Sopranos” “The Simpsons” and “Parks and Recreation,” and has received very good reviews.
Some of the shows are typical Web length, under 10 minutes, while other series, such as the drama “Girl/Girl Scene,” have 30 minute-long episodes. The content is all episodic, in fact every video we saw on the site was an episode in a larger series. Viewers sign in with Facebook, and can follow series, favorite videos, share and comment. The player will queue up a new video when one ends in a sort of playlist for that particular show or series.
Blip Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is
Blip’s earlier days were focused on helping independent content creators monetize and distribute their videos online. That core business hasn’t changed, though the company is now taking a much more direct hand in supporting those content creators. Last year, Blip announced it was launching its own Blip Studios and Steven Woolf was named president of the division. The studio is for content creators to use to increase production value of videos.
Ahead of Digital NewFront conference, Day announced Blip is funding content, as well.
“We are investing in a little over a dozen exclusive shows across categories,” Day told The Online Reporter. “We’ve made an eclectic investment across categories that we think are important to our audience and important to our advertisers.”
Day wouldn’t say how big of an investment the company has made, but did mention the shows will span topics such as comedy, lifestyle, video games and sci-fi. “It’s a nice mix of scripted and unscripted,” she said.
Blip has also announced a number of exciting content deals. My Damn Channel (MDC) has inked a deal with Blip for a number of shows, as has FremantleMedia, which runs The Pet Collective on YouTube. Blip has also signed a deal with Hollywood producer Michael Uslan, of “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.
Bringing Windows to Web Content
Blip is experimenting with windowing for its original series. The new content deals with Fremantle and MDC include 30-day exclusive windows for Blip. For My Damn Channel, for example, the series will be available exclusively on Blip and MDC’s Web sites for a period. After the window is up, those videos can be distributed on other platforms, such as YouTube and MSN.com.
Windowing is an interesting proposition for online video, which up until now has sought out its audience using word of mouth, social media, and search and recommendation engines on sites such as Google or YouTube.
“We’ve done a lot of experimenting with windowing content, and we’re going to continue to experiment with,” Day said. “In some cases we may release the content to other platforms in a couple of days, in other cases we may wait thirty days or more. We’ll continue to test it.”
On the one hand, offering that content exclusively through the Blip network adds value to the site for Blip viewers and advertisers. “Obviously the reason we’re making a big investment in content is because we want to have exclusive content available to our audience that comes to Blip,” Day said.
On the other hand, offering up content to YouTube is a great way to reach a huge, global audience, and drive viewers over to Blip. Day said she doesn’t think of Blip as a rival to YouTube. Instead, she said platforms such as Yahoo!, AOL and YouTube are great audience-building destinations. Content creators can reach a huge swath of viewers on destinations such as YouTube, and from there can be driven back to Blip.TV. “YouTube is a great platform for distributing content and acquiring audience,” she said. “We have over a dozen channels on YouTube, we will continue on YouTube.”
Marketing for Web originals has proven …
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