Confirmed: TV Networks Launch New Company To Counter Perceived Google/YouTube Threat

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Update: My real time notes from the media conference call are here.

The rumors of a joint venture to counter the perceived Google-YouTube threat, dubbed “Clown Co.” by Google executives, are now confirmed, although the name of the new company is not yet available. In a press release, Peter Chernin (COO News Corp.) and Jeff Zucker (CEO NBC Universal) are announcing “launch the largest Internet video distribution network ever assembled with the most sought-after content from television and film.” Content from at least a dozen TV networks and two major film studios is promised. Initial distribution partners include AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo.

Chernin says they will have access to “the entire U.S. audience” at launch. The service is promised for this summer, with “thousands of hours” of full length televisions shows and movies, as well as shorter clips. Users will have unlimited and free access to content on the site.

Good content lineup:

At launch, full episodes and clips from current hit shows, including Heroes, 24, House, My Name Is Earl, Saturday Night Live, Friday Night Lights, The Riches, 30 Rock, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, Prison Break, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader and Top Chef, plus hits from the studios’ vast television libraries, will be available free, on an ad-supported basis, within a rich consumer experience featuring personalized video playlists, mashups, online communities and video search. Plus, the extensive programming lineup will include fan favorite films like Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, Devil Wears Prada, The Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy with bonus materials and movie trailers. Post-launch, plans will be considered for acquiring additional content as well as producing and licensing original programming for the new site’s audience.

The content will be provided through distribution partners through a customized embeddable player.

The new company will be located in New York and Los Angeles. NBC Universal’s Chief Digital Officer, George Kliavkoff will transitionally head up the new entity at launch, with permanent management coming soon. No word on capitalization, other than “each company will devote a significant marketing and promotional budget to the new site’s launch.”

There is a media conference call today at noon with Chernin and Zucker to discuss the announcement. Hopefully more details will emerge then around the new company, and we’ll get a better understanding of how this thing will compare to YouTube, Joost, Netflix’s recent offering, and other IPTV offerings.

Things we don’t know yet:

- delay if any from TV broadcast to content being on the site.
– will there be a centralized site for the service, or will this only be distributed through partners?
– Will users/viewers be able to upload their own videos as well (lots of this on MySpace Video already, could be incorporated)?
– format and “skipability” of advertising

More as this develops and more details emerge.

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