The Avatars Business: MLB and NHL Plug Into It

Sean Ryan, the former CEO of Listen.com/Rhapsody, has launched the first formal product of his company Donnerwood Media: an avatar service called Meez. It is, for now, an online Java-based avatar service, with elements of social networking and licensed content plugged in.

Meez is browser-based and it works on Windows, Macintosh and Linux PCs. Ryan believes this is the year where avatars will become mainstream (though I am not so sure) and says that consumers have already shown huge appetite for personalized services like ringtones. Avatars are an evolution in that consumer behavior…

Business model? An interesting content play: Meez is licensing branded apparel from MLB and NHL to offer as premium products users can buy for their avatars to wear. A Yankee fan might wear a cap; a Sharks fan could don a hockey jersey. These would be expanded to other brands, and could get into product placement deals as well. Ryan also see a role in promoting music bands through his service.

In the next few months, Ryan expects to expand the service into mobile.

Competitors: OddCast, WeeMee, Yahoo Avatars, IMVU, Klonies (from Comverse), Activa Multimedia

Related: Donnerwood Gets $4.3 Million Second Round Funding