The deal has been in the works since last summer when Facebook sought a partner to be its official video-sharing service. And if the new service has a trajectory anywhere like Facebook's photo-sharing service, introduced in October 2005, it could be a huge boon for Comcast's fledgling user-generated content site.
Second biggest on web
Facebook's photo-sharing site is the second-largest photo site on the web, according to ComScore Media Metrix data, behind Photobucket but ahead of Flickr. Also per ComScore, Facebook had 19 million unique visitors in December; Comcast's network of sites had 18.7 million. Facebook has 16 million members.
"We've seen in the market that people are using our share feature and our users are sharing a huge amount of video," said Owen Van Natta, chief operating officer at Facebook. "We're attempting to find a smart way to enable users to do more sharing of videos, rate the videos they're sharing with each other and give them an avenue to be part of this TV show that's going to be produced."
Facebook will put out a call for its users to craft video about specific topics: relationships, work or family, for example. The company will encourage people to upload their existing user-generated videos or create unique videos to correspond with those topics, and the 20-week contest will culminate in a show produced by R.J. Cutler, who has produced TV shows such as FX's "30 Days."
Online and VOD
The show will feature the top submissions within each category, as chosen by Mr. Cutler. The clips will be woven together to create 10 half-hour episodes of "The Facebook Diaries" that will air online and on Comcast's VOD platform. It may also turn into a linear TV show down the road, said executives involved in the deal.
Liz Schimel, senior VP-content development for Comcast Online, called the partnership "the next big phase of our evolution."
"We think it's a great sponsorship opportunity for marketers to reach a demographic sweet spot in a multiplatform and multi-site environment," she said. "We've started to have some conversations [with marketers] about Ziddio."
Facebook will primarily sell advertising against Ziddio, Ms. Schimel said. But Mr. Van Natta said Facebook has also been thinking about the marketing opportunities around Facebook's video-sharing platform.
"We're initially very focused on the user experience," he said. "We want to make sure we get that right and we'll work with advertisers to figure out how they can get involved."
Comcast maintains Ziddio is a safe user-generated video site for marketers as it screens every video.
And user-generated video and Comcast appears to be a good combination. Earlier this month, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said 4% of its high-speed data traffic is due to people viewing YouTube videos.
Ms. Schimel didn't get into specifics on Ziddio usage but said that monthly uniques are "in the millions."