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The online video rights exploitation company helmed by former The Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie’s son has raised £2.75 million to fund development of mobile, tablet and connected TV apps, plus international expansion.
The money comes from previous backers YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) EMEA partnerships director Patrick Walker (in a personal capacity with Google’s blessing), ex Endemol creative chief Peter Bazelgette and MMC Ventures. The UK company is changing its name to Base79 because (get this) video is the base property which it can turn in to the gold, the atomic number of which is 79.
The company acquires rights to long-form content, licenses it to platforms like YouTube on owners’ behalf and takes a slice of any advertising revenue. CEO Ashley MacKenzie, who founded the company in 2008, tells paidContent it now exploits about two million videos owned by 90 content owners. Now it wants to take two big opportunities – the devices boom and U.S. prospects…
MacKenzie relocated to New York in December, hired A&E veteran Ron Schneier as U.S. COO and MySpace account director Jen Mancini as local sales VP, and has so far licensed Tiger Aspect content including Mr Bean to Netflix.
“This is a big market,” MacKenzie tells me. “The U.S. TV market is 10 times the size of the UK’s in TV ad sales terms despite being only four or five times the size in population. Content decisions are starting to be made out of New York.”
MacKenzie doesn’t just want to take British TV shows to U.S. platforms; he also wants to acquire U.S. content for domestic services, and plans to open in continental Europe in a few months.
The new-look Base79 also plans to hire a technology team and, within six months, a supporting product team, to make apps for its content owners.
“Major-user aggregators are not as well established as they are on the web and search is not necessarily the way people will discover their entertainment,” MacKenzie says. “Apps is the way people will consume their entertainment. It makes absolute sense for us to build a platform that allows us to rapidly produce high-quality apps for devices like Samsung Smart TVs and Galaxy Tab.
“We can bring economies of scale to our content owners, so they don’t just say ‘those guys just help me manage my rights on YouTube’.”
The result won’t be a rival Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) or even a Blinkx but, more likely, apps for individual content owners already represented on the web by Base79.
The company claims 375 million August 2011 views for its videos – a threefold increase for the year. Its UK business is profitable but MacKenzie wants to finance a shot at building a more diverse and global outfit.