The New Syndicators…Googled again?

Google sent shock waves through the media industry last week with its announcement that it would begin to syndicate MTV content to hundreds of Web sites. Under the MTV partnership, Google will distribute MTV clips from Laguna Beach, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and other shows to hundreds of targeted Web sites in Google’s AdSense network.

Now, to those of you not familiar with the developments in online syndication, that’s a brand new approach to online video. The syndication strategy relies on a three-way revenue split between Google, the content owner and the Web site. It also expands the number of options Google offers TV networks and content providers because the online giant already offers ad-supported video clips and lets users buy videos for download.

It is a HUGE move for online video distribution as new players position themselves for the eventual internet/televsion convergence – possibly leaving the traditional players in broadcast out in the cold.

Top of that syndication list is:
Brightcove: http://www.brightcove.com/
Dovetail: http://www.dovetail.tv/
Mochilla: http://www.mochila.com/
Clip Syndicate: http://www.clipsyndicate.com/web/index.php

Syndication of online video also has HUGE ramifications for traditional broadcast and content developers. Take the three-way syndication deal for “Arrested Development”. The critically-acclaimed but low-rated former Fox show sold syndicated rights to HDNet, G4 and MSN, marking one of the first syndication deals to include a high-definition network, a standard definition network and an online service.

This model speaks to both the tough sell the show faced and also to the opportunities content owners now enjoy with multiple distribution venues. With only 53 episodes and a small, though loyal, following, “Arrested Development” would have faced a steep hill in traditional broadcast station syndication.   While the deal is unique to the show’s particular quirks, it is also a precursor of what’s to come with syndication not being as narrowly defined as it may have been in the past.

Other examples include “Entertainment Tonight” providing clips for Yahoo and cell phone providers and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution deal to let local TV stations stream episodes of “Two and a Half Men” on their web sites.

Once again, this spells out as a great opportunity for all content developers & website (webchannel) owners to challenge the networks. (Publishing companies – wake up already!)

As for Google, my guess is that they will service the niche that caters to automation. When it comes to syndication of creative and the political barriers & competitive disadvantages that often go along with that – portals will want a more hands on approach when carving up the online territory they aim to own.

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