TV.com Prepares to Do Hulu Dance

Jan 11, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The CBS-owned television-centric Web site TV.com is set to announce it will be carrying content from the company’s broadcast network as well as TV partners including PBS, Showtime, Endemol and Sony—in other words, lots of professionally produced content that also is seen on the television.
Starting to sound a lot like Hulu?
The two sites’ content strategies are remarkably similar, setting up a clash of old-media titans on the new-media frontier. But in line with the new content norms of the Web, the sites will share content. TV.com will continue to be a Hulu distribution partner, and the site embeds many of Hulu’s videos.
Encouraged by the advertising growth for professionally created video on the Internet, CBS has quietly spent the last six months reworking the information site, which it acquired in its acquisition last year of CNET for $1.8 billion, into a one-stop shop for interactive video.
With a handful of early programming partners, TV.com has its work cut out for it in catching up to Hulu, the video site created by News Corp. and NBC Universal, which now boasts programs from more than 130 content providers.
The highly trafficked TV.com draws about 16 million unique visitors each month, said Anthony Soohoo, senior VP for entertainment and lifestyle at CBS Interactive, in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.
“We are trying to be the starting point for TV on the Web,” he said. “We believe TV.com can be a great starting point to get info for TV and we will have full episodes.”
TV.com will feature on its site more than 1,000 episodes of shows including “Dexter,” “The Tudors,” “Wired Science,” “Bewitched” and “Charlie’s Angels.”
That strategy would place TV.com directly in the crosshairs of Hulu, which has become the third most popular online video site. Hulu delivered 221 million video streams to about 7.5 million unique visitors in November, a 7.3 % increase in streams according to Nielsen.
But Mr. Soohoo insists TV.com is not remaking itself in Hulu’s image. In fact, TV.com is a distribution partner for Hulu and shares ad revenue on the Hulu videos embedded on TV.com.
“Hulu has great content, and we want to make sure it’s on our site,” he said. “We do believe it can be complementary, because TV.com can drive a passionate fan base to their content.
“We see television on the Web as bigger than just video,” he said. “It’s about community, getting information and the discussion.”
TV.com has just begun talking to advertisers about its content additions. Mr. Soohoo said TV.com is targeting movie studios, consumer products, pharmaceutical, automotive and financial advertisers—many of the same categories that already advertise on the site.
Research firm eMarketer predicts online video advertising will grow 45% this year.

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