Bebo, Open Media & Its Broadband Advantage

[qi:012] Bebo, another one of the fast-growing social networks out there, might be a U.S. company, but its roots are firmly planted in broadband-heavy Europe. Taking advantage of faster broadband in its core markets — the UK and parts of Europe — the company has announced a smart new Open Media platform strategy.

Open Media creates an entirely new user experience for Bebo members with the introduction of the ‘Personal Video Profile.’ A multi-dimensional user experience allows members to curate their favorite videos within their Bebo profile, which is customizable to reflect personal tastes as well as the interests of friends.

Open Media offers users access to a lineup of high-quality programs from professional broadcasters, independent producers and other rights owners, enhancing Bebo’s already-rich archive of user-generated content.

Bebo is popular in the UK and Ireland, two regions with 15 million broadband connections between them, accounting for roughly 25 percent of Bebo’s 40 million-strong member community. Nevertheless, to call Open Media a platform is overstating the case. I mean, come on people, now we’re calling content partnerships a platform?

Still, they are bringing a lot of content to their social network. While it might seem that Bebo is partnering with old media, the fact of the matter is that people like TV. So Bebo is giving them old TV — via a new distribution channel.

Faster speeds mean its network members can consume video, audio and digital content more effectively in big gulps. It is a smart strategy from a company that knows who its customers are, how they connect and what their needs are. And with this move, the company also distinguishes itself from Facebook and MySpace, two leviathans in the social networking domain.

Frankly, I am not at all surprised that Bebo has made this move and roped in partners as diverse as CBS, Ministry of Sound and BSkyB. They have been partnering with independent content producers for a while. They signed up Kate Modern, for example, a series created by the folks behind LonelyGirl15.

To some extent, the folks at MySpace recognize that the social networks are the NewTeeVee Networks, and have been bulking up on content partnerships as well. It will be one of topics we are hoping to discuss at our NewTeeVee Live conference tomorrow.

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