News Corp head Rupert Murdoch has, via an aside to the Wall Street Journal, let it be known that his new agenda for MySpace is for it to be an “entertainment portal,” rather than “a place for friends.” But while the site has put significant resources into some forms of entertainment — for instance, through its MySpace Music subsidiary — it has let video fall by the wayside.
MySpace Video, which for a time was called MySpace TV and featured lots of original windowed programming like Prom Queen, lonelygirl15 and quarterlife as well as premium content from partners like Hulu, has reverted to its prior name. It only has one original program running at the moment: Married on MySpace. The wedding reality show seems to be doing OK, though recent views are down from over a million per episode to around 100,000. (Show creators like Marshall Herskovitz have noted the immense power of being featured on MySpace and the letdown when you are not.) And MySpace only worked out a deal to give Married social viewing capabilities partway through the season.
Murdoch still has a significant asset to work with (though personally I can only get videos to load and play properly on MySpace if I click my heels together fast enough). comScore lists MySpace as the second-most popular U.S. video site by streams (to YouTube, of course), while Nielsen ranks it fourth below YouTube, Hulu and Yahoo.
Compared with other social-networking sites, MySpace maintains an advantage in terms of number of videos viewed per month — though Facebook at this point has more total people viewing video. That’s because MySpace focuses on entertainment video while Facebook emphasizes personal sharing.
Though we thought MySpace had the best-quality stream of Michael Jackson’s memorial out there, a representative for the site declined to give viewership numbers for it — something it has readily offered for past events. It’s not clear if that’s because the numbers were bad, if the streaming itself was poorly promoted, or if things are just disorganized given recent layoffs and reshuffling.
The last two MySpace Video/TV PR contacts we’ve worked with are no longer with the company. A rep declined to comment on Murdoch’s WSJ-delivered missive.