Metacafe Opening In UK Under Ex Joost Exec; ITN, Others On Board

imageimageUS video site Metacafe is about to launch in the UK, having hired Joost‘s London-based content acquisition and strategy director Tim Rottach to build its operation here.

Rottach told me he will use the ad sales service from Perform Group as well the sports video rightsholder’s content, giving Metacafe football and other highlights: “We’re working with a lot of different UK broadcasters and producers. We’ve just finished an agreement with ITN so we’ll be getting content from them, we’ll also have a lot of content from the us that works well over here from CBS, Fox Sports, and we’re working with Five on an agreement, and other local brands.” Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), United Biscuits, Lionsgate and Universal are signed on as advertisers. Update: They later said there’s no CBS.

Hachenburg: “We’re focused on the UK. We need to bring the same new look and feel from the US to the UK – that’s a more more entertainment-oriented homepage with a big billboard across the top where you can promote and feature the latest video content.” Hachenburg sets Metacafe apart from typical user-gen video sites because a team of between 80,000 and 100,000 reviewers voluntarily filters out low-quality submissions: “We end up with about 10 percent of submitted content appearing on the site.” That panel already includes reviewers in the UK.

Metacafe claims to be the world’s most-visited “independent” video site (ie. it’s trailing YouTube) with 50 million monthly uniques. CEO Erick Hachenburg, visiting London, told me it differentiates by filtering UGC video, adding professional web video and pro TV clips. But it’s a crowded video market any way you look at it – Metacafe was fifteenth and last on comScore’s list of UK uniques to video sites in April. The site redesigned in April to accentuate the offering around “hubs” for areas like sport, music and movie trailers.

Founded in 2003, Metacafe has raised at least $45 million from investors including Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures and Highland Capital Partners. Any more needed? Hachenburg: “We don’t need to – we have plenty of cash in the bank that will allow us to run well in to next year and possibly to the end of next year. But we’re testing the market right now to see whether there’s a professional partner on the monetisation-of-content front – can we take the UK model and roll it out in to other countries?”