Online video provider Blip.tv has added YouTube, Vimeo, NBCU Local Media NY, and Roku as content partners, the company announced at a press conference this morning. The deals represent a shot in the arm for the New York-based online video network, which serves as a distribution and marketing platform for content creators. Although the online video space continues to inspire confidence among forecasters, with many expecting double-digit growth, a number of companies have been struggling lately. Earlier this month, one of the most promising startups of the past few years, Next New Networks, said it was going to restructure and lay off some staff.
Of the deals announced by Blip.tv this morning, the YouTube partnership is the biggest, though the company is also counting from an additional boost from Vimeo. While there was nothing preventing Bilp.tv’s show creators from putting their content on YouTube before, the deal includes ads placed by Blip.tv, which the video provider will then be able to track.
The deal with NBC’s local media unit, meanwhile, will bring Blip.tv’s shows to the network’s new digital TV channel, New York Nonstop. Blip.tv CEO Mike Hudack told me that if all goes according to plan, Blip.tv will likely partner with NBC’s other local digital TV channels as well. The alliance with digital video player Roku is part of Blip.tv’s attempt to bridge the online video-TV gap; previous arrangements have placed Blip.tv on Sony (NYSE: SNE) Bravia high-def televisions and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS Video on Demand. Blip.tv is readying a channel on Roku’s player for this fall.
— Bringing screens together: Blip.tv wants to be seen as a video company, not just an “online video company.” Hudack was reluctant to weigh in on what’s ailing some of the other video startups these days, stressing Blip.tv’s ecumenical approach. “I don’t believe there’s one correct path in this space,” he said, though he stressed the goal of bridging the TV and computer screen was something that helped give Blip.tv some level of distinctiveness. “The TV and computer are both great screens. But the TV is better for leaning back. That’s what it was made for and that’s how you have to approach video. But you can’t ignore that more people are watching longer videos on their laptops and so we do full-streaming from our player. It’s not either/or.”
— Sustainable video: Hudack also said that Blip.tv’s distribution model is geared toward TV’s changing landscape. Hudack: “Our goal is to make web shows sustainable. The CBS (NYSE: CBS) TV network is about 68-years-old. The cable nets are about 25-years-old. They’re designed for economy of scarcity and linear distribution. We’re building our network for an economy of plenty and at a time when people can watch whatever they want, whenever they want. The majority of shows will come from independent, don’t have to work with TV networks, just as more of us are listening to music that is distributed independently.”