NBC Universal and Affliliates To Launch NBBC

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Five months after unveiling a new broadband partnership dubbed the National Broadband Company, NBC Universal and the network's 230 affiliates have launched a business to business marketplace for aggregating and distributing video from NBC, its affiliates and third-party Web sites.

NBBC, as the venture is called, aims to syndicate video content and build a revenue-sharing model where all three parties -- the content creator, the site that runs the video, and NBBC -- split profits from non-skippable ads embedded in the video.

Along with NBC Universal properties, including iVillage, USA Network, and Sci Fi, as well as NBC affiliates,early NBBC partners in NBBC include A&E Network, HowStuffWorks.com, and Washingtonpost.com and Newsweek.

NBBC executives say they are actively seeking deals with other big media companies.
So far, for example, CBS Corp's college sports cable network CSTV and News Corp's IGN Entertainment are signed on as partners. From its own library, NBC plans to make clips from its TV shows available through NBBC and may eventually stream full-length episodes.

"This is about making content available on as many platforms and to as many eyeballs as possible," says Randy Falco, president and COO of the NBC Universal Television Group.

The video content will not be directly accessible to the public. Rather, video will be housed in an online NBBC library where partners can upload and download clips of their choosing.NBBC will either sell ads - pre-roll video - for content providers or allow them to sell and attach their own ads.

When NBBC brings in the advertiser, the company will keep a percentage of the ad revenue and give a piece to the content owner and a cutto the distributor. If a partner brings in its own advertiser, they'll pay NBBC a flat fee, which it will share with the distributor.

NBC says the NBBC's partner Web sites combined reach more than 80 million users, giving it reach that is comparable to major Web players like Google and MySpace. It is difficult to make such a direct comparison, however, because NBBC's users are spread over dozens of sites, rather than connected by one common, branded destination.

But through NBBC, advertisers will find one-stop access to broadband users across a variety of sites. NBC will handle the ad sales and give clients the opportunity to buy across multiple Web sites and genres, such as breaking news, sports or entertainment video. So far, J.P. Morgan Chase has signed on as advertiser.

NBC is hardly alone in its efforts to monetize online video. In Aug., Viacom announced a video syndication partnership with Google whereby Google will enable Web site owners to place ad-supported clips of MTV Networks programming on their Websites and Viacom, Google and the site owners share the ad revenue. Viacom mandated that it approve each site that will host its video, and has specified it is looking only for sites that reach at least 100,000 users per month.

Some new companies are acting as clearinghouses for others' content. Online video distributor ClipSynidate, for instance, is a new service that syndicates local stations video and has deals with Clear Channel Television and Sinclair Broadcast Group.Other Websites, such as Revver and Brightcove, have been working to similarly distribute ad-supported video, paying about half of the ad revenue to the content creator and about 20% to the host site. AOL is introducing a similar program soon, also aiming to pay host sites 20%.

But NBBC executives say their service stands out because all players make money and have full control over what video runs on what sites. The system allows its partner sites to either provide video or take content for use on their sites.Through a web-based system, participants can upload video to NBBC's library and then determine the other sites they want to receive their video, as well as tag the video and promote back to their own site. All video will run in an NBBC-created video player.

NBBC and its partners say they will vet and approve all participating Web sites. While the early roster is mostly well-known Web sites and TV channels, NBC's General Manager of Strategic Ventures Mike Steib says the group would consider bloggers, provided they were deemed credible.

The venture was developed by NBC and its affiliates as part of a larger effort to partner on new businesses. Most recently, they launched jointly-owned digital weather channel Weather Plus. With NBBC, NBC owns 70% of the business and affiliates control 30%.

By participating an online syndication business for video, NBC stations have an opportunity to earn money from video they are already producing for newscasts or local programming, as well as their archives. Stations will likely contribute both breaking news and weather clips, as well as features on health and personal finance and clips from locally-produced content. NBCU's flagship WNBC New York, for example, plans to share breaking news and clips from its travelogue show Jane's New York and movie review program Reel Talk.

"Now we have a way to distribute video for free but at the same time we are being protected," says Jay Ireland, president of the NBC Universal TElevision Stations Group.

NBBC gives stations a way to monetize their libraries, says NBC Affiliate Board President Marci Burdick. "This gives us the scale to do that and scale with control."

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