ITV (LSE: ITV) has won a surprise deal to sell ads around videos published by ITN Source online venture Diagonal View. Founded by former Mobix Interactive CEO Matt Heiman as a 50/50 JV with the news agency, Diagonal View taps ITN’s library to repackage only the quirky, humourous videos under what is ITN Source’s first consumer online brand. Diagonal, and its funny-animal-videos sister site U-Zoo, operate both as their own sites and via platforms like MSN, YouTube, MySpace, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Bebo.
As we were surprised to learn in a briefing with both sides recently, Diagonal View’s videos are actually incredibly popular (and very funny) – clocking 150 million views in its first year and ranking as the most-viewed channel on 10 web video platforms, including the third most-viewed global MySpace channel of all time. They’re the kind of thing you just have to send to a friend. So this may turn out to be a potential coup for ITV’s nascent online sales outfit, as ITV focuses on profiting from ITV.com while it tries to sell Friends Reunited and Scoot and shut ITV Local.
Meanwhile, ITV has hired its first social media and online engagement manager. Its online PR Ben Ayers, who has been rapidly extending the broadcaster’s shows in to Twitter since joining last year, takes the role – an unique one for ITV – which will see him try to engage online communities and fans of shows through social networks, bloggers and forums. This shows ITV beginning to formalise its social media strategy to drum up views to its core ITV.com site.