MySpace, the biggest social networking site on the Web, came out of nowhere to command nearly 5 percent of all Internet visits. It’s the kind of meteoric success story the television industry can’t ignore.
Along the way, the site has grown into a vital medium to market television shows to the younger audiences that have been distracted from TV by the Internet and video games.
“If you can find a way to tap into these social networks around these passion points, you can drive millions of people to your show,” said Jason Klarman, senior VP of marketing and brand strategy for cable network Bravo.
Bravo has also turned to viral communities on Yahoo, AOL and the Gawker and Defamer TV blog sites to help market its “Project Runway.” The growth in the program’s audience shows that the new social media are “part of the smart marketing mix,” Mr. Klarman said.
Purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. last year for $580 million and now established as the embodiment of the social networking phenomenon, MySpace is working to boost revenue and profit while preserving its Web cachet. In the end, that revenue may come from advertisers who want to be linked to old-school TV shows and other professionally produced video hosted on MySpace.
MySpace kicked off its first network promotion in March 2005, when the site streamed the premiere episode of the American version of “The Office” before its on-air debut. Later that year, FX created a MySpace page and video blog for “Nip/Tuck.” This past spring, MySpace took another big step into TV content when it offered several episodes of Fox’s “24.”
Another indication of the importance of social networks is the current speculation regarding possible suitors for Facebook, a MySpace competitor. In late September, RBC Capital Markets said that MySpace’s worth will likely increase to about $15 billion in 2009.
“MySpace, YouTube, etc. are not just social networking sites, they are distribution networks,” said Brahm Eiley, analyst with the Convergence Consulting Group. “Ultimately we will see these players morph into music labels, movie distributors and TV stations.”