MySpace is getting serious about its television portal.
Yesterday, the world’s largest social networking site announced that it had signed its first worldwide content deal with the BBC. The BBC channel will launch on MySpaceTV with short-form content of new and archived programming.
“This is MySpaceTV’s first global network deal, and it reflects a fast-approaching Internet future defined by cooperation between corporations and the portability of content across new and traditional networks,” Jeff Berman, MySpace’s newly minted executive vice president of marketing and content, said in a statement.
In his new role, Berman will oversee the expansion and packaging of media content on MySpace.
Adding professional content to MySpaceTV is the latest push by the social networking site to transform itself into a multichannel media and communications hub — a one-stop shop for video, music, blogging, instant messaging and many other applications.
Already well known as a launch pad for aspiring musical acts, the site recently launched the Transmissions channel on MySpaceTV, offering exclusive videos of established acts and downloads available for purchase through deals signed with record labels.
The new BBC Worldwide channel on MySpaceTV contains seven content categories: Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi, Weird and Wonderful, Love Earth, Famous Faces and Top Gear, with three more scheduled for launch in the near future, according to the Web site. The BBC will update the channel with new clips weekly.
MySpaceTV is available in 27 international territories, with localized versions available in seven languages.
Programming on the network ranges from garden-variety user-generated videos to professionally produced content from television and Web companies as well as independent publishers.
Launched in June, MySpaceTV currently has 86 partner channels, including branded content from National Geographic, The Onion and The New York Times. Users can express their opinion about a video by clicking on the “booyah” thumbs-up icon, or the “no way” thumbs-down button.
A property of Google, YouTube is the Web’s most popular destination for watching and sharing video and has its own partner program.
YouTube recently announced that it would open its advertising program to allow the most popular and prolific contributors to monetize their content.
Content deals such as the one outlined in yesterday’s announcement and the launch of Transmissions are part of MySpace’s effort to further entrench itself as an online media exchange. With about 110 million active users, MySpace has become one of the Web’s top destinations.
When it comes to online video, however, MySpace sits a distant second.
In November, YouTube and other Google sites delivered 31.3 percent of all online videos seen by U.S. users, according to online metrics firm comScore. Fox Interactive, which includes MySpace, was second, serving up just 4.4 percent of all videos.
YouTube accounts for 98 percent of all video traffic on Google sites; 93 percent of all video traffic on Fox Interactive properties comes from MySpace, comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman told InternetNews.
In November, comScore found that 74.5 million people watched 2.9 billion videos on YouTube.
On MySpace, 43.2 million people watched 389 million videos. That translates into 39 videos per YouTube viewer, compared with nine videos per MySpace viewer.
One of Berman’s challenges in his new role will be to narrow the gap.