t5m Enters the Online TV Network Fray

With online video being the darling of the day, it is hardly a surprise that the ranks of online video networks keep growing. t5m, a London-based company started by serial entrepreneur Charlie Muirhead, is the latest to join the likes of ON Networks, Next New Networks and DECA. (t5m stands for The Fifth Medium, we are told.)

Muirhead, who in a past life founded companies such Orchestream and Nexagent, has managed to convince a lot of heavy hitters to invest in his company. Investors include Brent Hoberman, a co-founder of lastminute.com; John Taysom, the founder of the Reuters Greenhouse Fund; and Rattan Chadha, founder of Mexx, the clothing company. t5m’s special twist on online video content is that it is “socially conscious” and will focus on content that “will inspire and entertain.” Charlie Rose meets E!

t5m got many celebrities to endorse their network, though how it translates into viewers remains to be seen. Here is a quick hands-on review of the service:

It doesn’t work with Mozilla Firefox and you need Internet Explorer. Why? Because the site uses the new-fangled Silverlight technologies, unlike other video sites that use Adobe Flash. The install process was fairly easy and took less than 45 seconds. I watched a great chat with best-selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford. The network at present is a bit sparse on content, and if t5m wants to attract a steady audience, they need to put their content machine into high gear.

The overall mix of the network content is a bit high-brow, which is fine, but I wonder if they can actually develop a mass audience or remain a niche play. I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the small size of videos (though you can enlarge them to full screen), and web pages were dominated by static content. I would imagine a video network would emphasize its video assets. Hey, that’s just me. I guess they’ll figure it out…eventually.

Bottom line: From a business perspective, given how much money corporations spend on do-good causes, and involvement of celebrities, they can attract a decent-sized audience. If they keep a tight control on costs, t5m can actually become a decent niche network.

Video courtesy: t5m via thenewsmarket.

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