With Facebook trying to steal audience and the hip-factor, with YouTube working on delivering more interactive social networking features, leading social network MySpace is today defending its territory with the launch of a renamed, newly improved video sharing site and service.
As noted by MySpace CEO Chris DeWolf in the New York Times, an upgrade was over do. He said “We [hadn’t] really freshened up our video offering since we launched it… We wanted to highlight the fact that we have a video destination on the Web with all this great content that we’ve acquired.”
MySpace TV will be operated as an independent website where users can watch or share videos whether they have a MySpace account or not. Those with MySpace pages will be able to use embedded tools to make videos accessible from their personal pages. Later in the year, though not part of the original offering, MySpace will also launch a video editing service based on technology it acquired in the purchase of Flektor.
In contrast to rival YouTube which was arguably built (in part) on the back of its popularity with MySpace users (who hosted YouTube videos on their MySpace pages), the new MySpace effort is set to eventually focus more on professional grade video than user generated content. Sibling company Fox, NBC Universal, Michael Eisner’s Vuguru and other professional video publishers are expected to license content. All have been wooed partly by MySpace efforts to establish a range of technologies to protect against the kind of copyright violations that have landed YouTube in court. For the official rollout, which is now live, a substantial portion of the hosted company will be user-generated.
The video marketplace is deep with competition and there is some speculation as to whether the MySpace effort will catch on. While MySpace has a huge audience, more than 100 million users a month, many of its users also comprise the existing (and target) audience for competitors including video sites from YouTube and Revver or Metacafe, to even syndication services like Veoh which give one-stop access to content from all over. At the same time, in opposition of the pundits, there are metrics that suggest the audience watching videos on MySpace is close, and gaining ground, on the audience numbers for YouTube. MySpace is, in fact, by some measurements the second most popular video-sharing site on the web.
Given the pool of users available its hard to imagine MySpace TV won’t be successful in gaining more market share with an improved offering; especially if MySpace TV lives up to promise and makes it easier to add video content to MySpace pages.
At launch, the MySpace TV offering will be available in 15 countries and 7 languages, allowing it to go after YouTube in both the U.S. and Global Markets.
With YouTube adapting itself, more and more, into a competing social network, it is a natural move for MySpace to fight back against the threat by challenging YouTube’s primary strength, its video marketplace.
The challenge will not be limited to MySpace TV either. In a second front, there are reports from Silicon Valley and New York, that MySpace parent, News Corp, is now actively meeting with both Venture Capitalists and Private Equity firms to secure as much $100m in investment for NewCo, a code-named joint venture with NBC that’s been reported about since March for its potential but not thus far, for any execution of their plan. (In March News Corp and NBC Universal announced New Co in a press release describing the plan and a distribution partnership with Yahoo, AOL and MSN)