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Media brands boost online video programming

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Media companies are angling for their share of a market that is on the upswing: U.S. online video advertising, as a percentage of total online ad spending, is expected to reach almost 8% this year, according to eMarketer, and should reach about 13% by 2015. Meanwhile, a trio of top media brands is moving quickly to leverage their content into new video programming that originates on the Web. In early February, the Wall Street Journal Digital Network launched a WSJ Live YouTube channel, featuring “Off Duty,” a video companion series to the lifestyle section of the print paper's Weekend Journal. “Off Duty” is initially broadcast for 30 minutes, five nights a week, at 6 p.m. (ET), then repackaged into five-to-six minute on-demand segments. The show builds on WSJ.com's existing lineup of online programming, such as “Digits,” “Mean Street” and “NewsHub.” WSJ.com has been running content on YouTube since 2007, but is now focusing its efforts around unique content offerings. “We've taken [online video] from being something that we did on the side of our editorial operations to front and center,” said Alisa Bowen, general manager of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network. Bowen said that a key component in WSJ.com's online video offering is selling ad inventory based on individual shows rather than a specific channel. “We haven't tried to sell advertisers on individual platforms or individual devices,” she said, adding that online video advertising draws a much higher revenue yield than traditional display ads. “We've created a consistent user experience and a consistent programming experience across all of the applications—whether it's YouTube on one end of the spectrum or our website on the other end.” The New York Times is also moving aggressively to develop original online video programming. “Business Day Live,” which the Times debuted in January, is broadcast live from the paper's newsroom and features video news reports that focus on the day's top business stories. It runs initially for about six minutes at 10:30 a.m. (ET) on the NYTimes.com home page, and there are plans to expand it in the next few months. “Business Day Live” is packaged as a sole sponsorship sold a month at a time. “We're seeing strong demand from our advertisers—both b-to-c and b-to-b—for video inventory; and that was one of the impetuses behind doing a show like this,” said David Perpich, VP-product management at The New York Times. “Business Day Live” videos are available on demand after they run and are also streamed through a video library on NYTimes.com. The show is promoted via house ads in the print edition of the Times, email marketing and social media. It's also integrated into the Times' YouTube channel. YouTube, now in the process of developing dozens of new channels, garnered 157.2 million unique visitors in December, up 9% from the year-earlier period, according to comScore Inc. Thomson Reuters Corp.'s Reuters TV debuted on YouTube in January. The new offering, also available on Reuters.com, features 10 programs covering news, finance, politics and technology. The shows typically run between two and six minutes. In addition to advertising sponsorships for individual programs on Reuters TV, Thomson Reuters is looking to offer Reuters TV programming to its clients and partners, and to create new programming to syndicate via Reuters News Agency, said Steven Schwartz, head of global business development at Thomson Reuters Corp. “We're learning really, really well what's the most engaging content that we can produce, and [we] use various different channels to monetize and commercialize the content,” Schwartz said. “It's critical to tap into all of these diversified revenue streams.”
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