Web shows and producers increasingly say they need a big draw to break away from the pack. A celebrity, brand or deal with a company such as MySpace, Google or NBC can be that silver bullet. But networks need the little guys too, because a pair-up with an independent can help them minimize risk and manage production costs when launching new Web programs.
Under the NBC-60 Frames deal announced last week, NBC is now pitching advertisers on a slate of original digital shows produced by 60 Frames, a Web financing and distribution shop founded by former UTA agent Brent Weinstein. If advertisers pony up, the shows will run across broadband, mobile, video-on-demand and other platforms.
That business model ensures that new digital programs are already financed and paid for before they even go into production, a smart bet for a new business in a down economy. NBC expects such alliances to become more commonplace, perhaps signaling that another phase of consolidation in online video has begun, as the indies clamber for dance partners.
"The alignments are more and more important," said Cameron Death, VP of digital content at NBC Universal. "What we bring to the table is distribution, scale and reach. And we have a ton of digital sales people calling on brands every day."
That's alluring to both independent producers and venture-funded online TV networks, especially during a recession.
"Given the down economy in general and the ongoing scramble for broadband video ad dollars in particular, companies like NBCU, which have strong ad relationships and access to budgets, have even more partnership appeal," said Will Richmond, industry analyst with VideoNuze.com.
A willingness to entertain a number of flexible business models is an asset to a Web video company, Mr. Weinstein said. Such partnerships are not new to Web producers or to 60 Frames; his company previously inked a deal with MySpace to distribute the 60 Frames fashion advice show "Who What Wear."