NBCU-NWS JV: Kliavkoff: Worry About Big Content Partners After Launch

At times, it’s looked as though the NBCU (NYSE: GE)-News Corp.-(NYSE: NWS) joint venture might launch with CBS on board but chances are getting slimmer as the September start approaches. Beyond the grumbling we’ve heard behind the scenes, NBCU chief digital officer George Kliavkoff told Forbes that the JV still known as NewCo and New Site is likely to add more content before launch but suggested the other broadcast nets aren’t a major focus just now. Kliavkoff: “About a month ago we started to say, ‘It’s getting close to launch, we’re going to put our heads down and launch, and worry about adding additional big content partners later.'”

CBS with its multi-site distribution network would be a more likely candidate that Disney’s ABC. As Kliavkoff explains, “Disney tends to take more of a centrist, protect the network brand rather than the show brand kind of an approach, which in some respects is inconsistent with what we’re doing because we think there’s discovery to be had between the shows. So they will either continue down that path or decide to more broadly distribute their content. If they distribute more broadly, we’re a natural first step for them.”

Competing with iTunes: Long-form movies “with very few exceptions” will be download-to-own. TV episodes will be streamed free but available for paid download similar to iTunes. Kliavkoff: “In many respects, it will be in competition with iTunes.” He said NBCU wants Apple to work on copyright protection through the device: “The majority of content that’s on an iPod isn’t bought through iTunes. Our pirated content ends up on that device. We’d like to figure out a way to avoid pirated versions of that same content getting on the same device.” He said the conservation with Apple on that topic is ongoing. They also want more pricing control.

Adjacency advertising: Kliavkoff said they aren’t worried about ads appearing on the wrong sites when video sharing is allowed: “The video might travel, but we may choose not to put ads with it — we may use it as a promotion to bring them back to New Site, and that is where we’d sell.”

Peacock Fun: Kliavkoff said the new fund is on pace to invest $250 million over a 2-3 year lifespan. He said the fund has made five investments and announced three.