Blip.tv Builds a Hulu for Original Web Series

Genre Is Growing, but How to Find an Episode of 'White Collar Brawler'?

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Looking for great original web series? Perhaps something in the sci-fi genre, like "Aidan 5," a no-budget series filmed by some folks in Columbus, Ohio, in live action with animated backdrops? Blip.tv wants to help you find them.

The startup has until now been all about helping the makers of web series, like "Misadventures of MindCraft Chick" and "Old Jews Telling Jokes," distribute and make money from their work on YouTube, large portals and other sites. But now it is launching its own consumer-focused site, a cross between Hulu and iTunes, and is giving indie web series a face lift with "poster tiles" so they'll be displayed like an episode of "Desperate Housewives" on iTunes or Netflix.

"The reality is there hasn't been anywhere out there to discover original web series; there's a market need and we felt a need to build it," said Blip.tv CEO Mike Hudack.

While consumers say they like web series, they also say they're very hard to find, buried under episodes of "Family Guy" on Hulu and amid user-generated video on YouTube. The original web series had a presentation problem on the web, and Blip.tv is looking to fix it. They're also adding human editors to help pick the best, as well as recommend new series to devoted viewers.

"We're not acting like a TV exec and saying 'This is going to be a hit or this is not going to be a hit,'" Hudack said. "The real goal is to create something like Apple's App Store. You know everything in the store is quality, that it's been reviewed and is good."

It's a shift for Blip.tv, which until now has been more focused on creating tools to help producers of web series make money from their work. But they conducted some research with Maslansky, Luntz and Partners that showed that while consumers are generally aware of web series, they don't know where to find them.

The site represents a shift in the way Blip.tv will package the shows to advertisers. T-Mobile is sponsoring the homepage, while advertisers such as Reebok are sponsoring "categories" of shows such as health, wellness and sports. Before, the ads traveled only with the video, which was largely on other sites.

Shows represented by Blip.tv receive 300 million views a month; most of those distributed around the web, including YouTube. Now, Blip.tv will start driving traffic back to their site, through a button on their video player and by the producers themselves, many of whom are now using Blip.tv as their own web presence.

It's a nascent entertainment category, but as TV moves to the web and other platforms, one that comes without the economics or baggage of studio-produced TV. We'll let Mr. Hudack explain along with co-founder Dina Kaplan:

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