t5m re-launches as a branded content studio, syndicator and video player

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When Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher launched his Blahgirls project at Techcrunch 50 this year, one of the first things investor Ron Conway said on the judging panel was that the idea would tap into the emerging billion dollar market for branded content. Media plays like Blahgirls aren’t normally so well received in the tech community, but now UK startup t5m has today re-launched in order to tap into the same market. But it will do so by setting up a global network of bureaus to produce and syndicating short-form interactive 3-5 minute HD video, built around brands and distributed via its own custom-built video player.

Right now the portal site is mainly a showcase but next February it will re-launch with personalisation, social networking, shopping, competitions and new video contributors. It’s being built on a customised version of the open-source WordPress platform called WordPress Multi-User, developed with Automattic, the company behind the WordPress open source blogging platform. The site now features 300 hours of HD content, 100 in-depth profiles and over 20 events.

More videos like this on www.t5m.com

The move is a full-blown re-vamp for t5m which launched in December last year as a “socially-conscious online TV network” with investment from Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman, Reuters Greenhouse Fund founder John Taysom and Mexx clothes company founder Rattan Chadha. The founder and CEO Charlie Muirhead, a serial UK entrepreneur behind Orchestream, acquired by MetaSolv in 2003.

T5M initially focused on offering charities such as Nelson Mandela’s 46664 their own dedicated t5m video channel. However, that strategy has clearly been switched for celebs and start-studded events. t5m will now even book the ‘talent’ and presenters for these videos.

T5M launched first in 2007 with Microsoft’s Silverlight Flash competitor but after poor results – few people actually have Silverlight installed – they now offer that alongside the ubiquitous Flash format. Encoding is done in H264 and outputed to Flash and Silverlight. The video player is sharable and will distribute it in HD format, as well as on other platforms like YouTube. In February the video player will be interactive.

Most of the video is of famous personalities, and backstage interviews at celeb-studded events in the UK like the Brits, but t5m plans to launch a global network of bureaus to produce the content. They’ll also create custom hosted video sites for partners and clients.

So far clients have included Samsung Electronics Europe among others. So in other words funding will be from client revenues, especially events. In fact the company says it is nearly profitable already, although a funding round may be in the offing as the there is IP in the platform and player.

T5M will probably benefit from the uptick of budgets towards online as brands with advertising budgets increasingly find that consumers are flipping through their TV ads because of the proliferation of PVRs. Web video therefore has three main advantages for brand advertisers: viewers can’t skip the ads, the brand appears either side of the video and, important in Europe, most online video remains unregulated by broadcast watchdogs.

It’s an interesting move. The tradional TV world contains production companies which rarely own rights or syndicate. T5M will combine both models.

  • http://buzvia.com/woodmarvels.com Jon

    Switching from Silverlight which isn’t half bad to Flash should see a major up-tick in their viewership. Don’t hear much about Silverlight these days huh? I wonder what that platform is up to.

    http://WoodMarvels.com – Create Unique Memories

  • Chris

    “T5M launched first in 2007 with Microsoft’s Silverlight” – sounds like they have no idea what they’re doing if they chose Silverlight as their platform. When will people learn? (head shaking from side to side)

  • Peter

    T5M already went into administration last year and had to slew off all of its creditors. Nasty.

    I subscribe to the no idea what they are doing camp….

  • http://zuluzulu.net Wessel van Rensburg

    Not sure of the use of WordPress MU us much of a story guys. It’s free to download and many people are using it for many different sites.

    On the subject of branded content they might be onto something. Brand advertising has for many years been the biggest slice of the advertising pie by a country mile.

    But TV is in terminal decline. Where is all those budgets going to go?

    Product placement in movies and the sponsoring of facebook and iPhone apps just won’t be enough to swallow that enormous amount of money.

  • http://www.futurescape.co.uk Colin Donald

    Mike – it’s easy to see why a video producer would look to product placement for revenue. Outside of the BBC, virtually all the commercial UK-made Web shows rely on either the advertiser-funded model (eg Ford’s Bite and Neon Candy) or multiple product placement deals (Bebo-backed series, such as Endemol’s The Gap Year).

    However, in order to make this succeed, t5m will have to deal with several major issues, such as :

    1) How to produce unique celeb-led entertainment?

    Sure, the celebs should appeal to prospective advertisers, but everyone, such as RDF’s new entertainment magazine show B-Box on Bebo, is covering the red carpet events, so what does t5m do differently?

    2) How to relaunch t5m itself?

    Its current celeb roster spans The Hoosiers to Barbara Taylor Bradford, so what’s the new focus going to be and who for?

    3) And how to work within – or compete against – the emerging paid product placement ecosystem?

    This includes international media agencies (MindShare, Vizeum), placement agencies owned by super-indies (Endemol’s New State) and the independents (Kempelwood, Brandirector).

    There certainly is significant opportunity for producers to work with integrating brands, but just because there’s a lot of potential, it still won’t be easy.

  • cease

    who gives a f about branded content.. all that matters if its good or not.

  • bigh_818

    whoopty do. more junket content, just what the world needs.

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  • http://publisherblog.automattic.com/2008/12/23/t5m-selects-wordpress-mu-for-new-video-platform/ t5m Selects WordPress MU For New Video Platform « WordPress Publisher Blog

    […] TechCrunch UK recently profiled t5m and commented that: UK startup t5m has today re-launched … by setting up a global network of bureaus to produce and syndicating short-form interactive 3-5 minute HD video, built around brands and distributed via its own custom-built video player. […]

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  • photographer

    I notice that this story doesn’t mention that t5m collapsed in may last year, leaving me (and numerous other suppliers) unpaid. It had outstanding debts of over $2m. The debts have still not been paid off, and we have been told to expect 10% of what we are owed in two years.

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