Mike Hudack, the founder of Blip.tv, just landed a major set of deals to expand the distribution of his Web video network. The biggest deal is with YouTube, which for the first time will allow Blip.tv to place its own ads in the YouTube player on behalf of the Web video creators who use Blip. Hudack is also announcing distribution deals with NBC Local Media for regular TV starting in New York City, Vimeo, and Roku set-top boxes. It is also expanding existing deals to show Blip videos on Verizon FIOS, Tivos, and Sony TVs with Ethernet jacks.
About 50,000 different shows have been uploaded to Blip, where video creators can then spread them across the Web, iTunes and set-top boxes. According to the company, Blip is doing 72 million video streams a month to a worldwide audience of 22 million people. Only 4 percent of those views are on Blip.tv itself.
“I think we will double our audience with these deals,” says Hudack. He might be able to double his audience with just YouTube, which comScore estimates does 6.6 billion streams a month and reaches about 100 million people in the U.S. alone. It is not so much distributing videos on YouTube that is a big deal. It is being able to share in the advertising revenues and getting tracking data back. YouTube has gradually been making it easier for content partners to sell and place their own ads within YouTube, expanding from a few large media partners at the beginning of the year to about 50 today.
Now, YouTube is embracing smaller partners like Blip through a trial with a video ad network founded by ex-Googlers called FreeWheel, which allows Blip and others to serve their own ads inside YouTube. Blip still has to approve individual members before they can tap into those YouTube dollars, but once they pass muster they can use FreeWheel to set up their ads once to play on YouTube, Vimeo, Blip, iTunes, or wherever. FreeWheel takes care of the accounting and rev-shares, which gets complicated when the money gets split so many ways. Blip deos a 50/50 rev share with video creators after payments to third parties like YouTube and FreeWheel.
Along with the new distribution partnerships, Blip has completely redesigned its video management dashboard from the ground up. (See screen shots below). Web video auteurs can now see in one place how many views and dollars each episode of their videos is attracting. (TubeMogul is powering the analytics). The dashboard lets them batch edit and distribute their videos. They can drag and drop teh videos in teh episode list to reorder them, and the new order is automatically propagated to their RSS feed and all point so distribution. The embeddable Blip video player itself is also now much more customizable. .
All of these changes should help Hudack get Blip closer to his “stretch” goal of becoming profitable this year. He raised $5.2 million from Bain Capital Ventures last October, which helped it get through the worst of the advertising downturn. “What we found was that the first quarter sucked,” he says, ” but April started leading a resurgence of advertising dollars. Every month is a new record for us.” The average cost advertising rates Blip gets are between $10 and $20 per thousand views.
That YouTube deal should have the effect of increasing views while putting downward pressure on CPMs. But if views go up faster than prices go down, Blip will end up better off.