Gannett Preps Online Video Network To Streamline Content, Ads; Will Seek Syndication Deals

While online video has had a place on most of the 150 websites behind Gannett’s (NYSE: GCI) over the past few years, the company has found it difficult to seamlessly organize, distribute and, most important, make money from it. The McLean, Va.-based media company thinks it has a solution: form an online video network that will allow it to manage content from its various U.S. properties — 85 newspapers, including USA Today, and 23 TV stations — more easily. The increased scale from a single video pipeline is also intended to make Gannett’s videos more attractive to advertisers and lead to wider distribution via syndication deals. The company is working with internet TV provider Maven Networks for front end player/advertising and Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) subsidiary thePlatform for backend management/syndication. The first live test of the video network is expected later this month. (The Maven release is here; thePlatform release is here.)

I spoke with Peter Lundquist, VP, content and product development for Gannett Digital, about the company’s online video strategy: more after the jump…

Inventory and creative demands: “Our biggest need has been to find ways of growing our inventory. Demand for advertising on our video players is very high, but we haven’t been able to keep up with the demand from a volume standpoint. So we’ll now be able to do two things: one, by scaling the distribution and having more inventory to sell; and two, we’ll be able to do more with ad solutions beyond just pre-roll video ads, which is primarily what we’ve been doing.”

Roll-out plan: The program is currently in the pilot phase. After launching at least one video site by the end of the year. The roll-out plan calls for the basic players to hit Gannett’s sites during Q2.”

Video vertical plays: In addition to better management of its video assets in general, Gannett sees the video network as a springboard for new product development. “We’re very strong in news, but we have a network of local community sites for moms. Being able to distribute video content for those various sites based on where geographical location is important to us and represents one example of the kinds of vertical plays for video that we’ll be looking for in the coming year.”