ABC (NYSE: DIS) is taking an about face on its initial plans to serve as the sole distributor of its streaming content, Mediaweek reports. Taking a page from NBCU-NWS JV Hulu (NYSE: NWS) (NYSE: GE) and then CBS (NYSE: CBS), both with extensive video syndication deals, ABC is rumored to be looking for similar distribution deals with AOL and MSN, as well as Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), MySpace (NYSE: NWS) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). So far, the network says it has closed one online syndication deal, but won’t announce it until the fall. The move signals an awareness that self-streaming won’t produce enough advertising revenue.
One difference so far from the CBS approach, according to Mediaweek: ABC’s distribution agreement requires partner sites to run the network’s video content through a media player it controls. CBS said that it wants its distribution partners to choose what sort of video player will appeal best to the various sites’ particular audiences.
Jo Ann Ross, president of sales for the CBS Television Network, said the Interactive Audience Network has brought in “several million dollars” in revenue so far. But, as an another CBS exec points out, the ad model is still a work in progress. Zander Lurie, SVP-strategy and development for CNET, which is a distribution partner for CBS and hulu, tells MediaWeek that the two are also trying out opposite revenue models in general. With CBS, CNET gets paid for syndicating its videos, described as an “import model”; with Hulu, CNET not only gets paid for importing their content, but for offering its own content to Hulu as well. CNET makes more money from exporting video but both models serve the same purpose, says Lurie.