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Syndicate or Die

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Building Blocks
Repurposed television video isn’t the hot online commodity that the casual viewer might expect, but it does play heavily into one site that really knows about exclusives. Hulu has tied up several television properties into what experts guess to be multi-year commitments. The site has become one of the best known video destinations because it offers premium content that can’t be found anywhere else online. Of course, it helps that the site is co-owned by NBC Universal, Inc. and FOX Entertainment Group.

Figure 5
XOS Digital creates original content for both broadcast and online, and the company’s Rich Routman says that whilethere’s a place for TV content online, original and unique shows will fare better on the web.

For other sites, original programming is the better way to go. XOS Digital licenses sports content and syndicates it to broadcast and (for less than 2 years now) online sources. The company quickly learned that it needed to create fresh content for the web.

"If you’re simply taking content from TV and placing it online, that content may have already exhausted its viewership opportunity," says Rich Routman, senior vice president for sales and business development at XOS Digital. "What we believe is that there’s a world for TV content online, but it sometimes needs to be formatted differently, it may need to be reproduced in a way that’s better for online. Clearly a lot of TV shows that have been redistributed online have done very well. Our strategy is dissimilar [to] that. It’s not necessarily just about taking the full game that aired on TV and distributing that online; it’s creating programming from that full game in the form of 90- to 120-second programs and distributingthat across some of our top site partners."

Exclusives and distribution are building blocks of online video syndication, and online networks are emerging as power players. Think of them as comparable to the existing broadcast and cable networks, although they’re free to work by different rules. Major playersinclude Next New Networks, Inc.; blip.tv; and Revision3.

Figure 6
Vanessa Pappas of Next New Networks says her company embraces the idea of "super-distribution" to get its content out to as many niche audiences as possible.

"We have a couple of the old media guys with us who, when we were looking at starting the company, they really saw where the future of television was going and that it’s the next step from cable being that it’s dividing the audience even finer," says Vanessa Pappas, director of audience and strategic partnerships at Next New Networks. "We started looking at the fact that the internet can serve communities that are underserved by television, and they’re a lot more niche and defined."

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