MySpace, the social networking site owned by News Corp, has made its biggest push yet into providing its millions of members with original video content after striking a deal with Michael Eisner, the former chief executive of Walt Disney.
The agreement, to be announced as early as Thursday, is the first of many expected tie-ups between MySpace and creators of short-form video entertainment.
The deal, part of the site’s effort to compete more aggressively with YouTube will see MySpace distribute and promote Mr Eisner’s new online drama, Prom Queen.
Each “webisode” will last 90 seconds and new instalments will air on MySpace every day, starting on Sunday. MySpace’s 160m users will be able to watch the shows a day before they appear anywhere else on the Internet.
MySpace declined to comment on the deal, which comes a week after News Corp and NBC Universal announced plans for an online video platform.
News Corp has already made inroads into online video with MySpace. Although it is best known for social networking, the site has grown to become the second-biggest online video destination behind YouTube, which is owned by Google.
But with advertisers pouring more money into Internet video, the fight for supremacy as the leading distribution channel is intensifying, with original and compelling content seen as a key driver of big online audiences. MySpace attracts up to 60,000 new videos a day, with its video channel having doubled in size in a year, according to internal traffic numbers.
Unlike YouTube, video on MySpace can be targeted at the site’s communities. Two-thirds of all videos played on MySpace appear on the individual profile pages of its users, which has increased the site’s appeal to advertisers and creators of content keen to target specific audiences.
Prom Queen will be aimed at a young, teenage demographic, and its fictional characters will have their own video blogs and MySpace pages.
The deal also represents a significant milestone for Mr Eisner, who in his 20 years at Disney oversaw a turnround of the company. However, his tenure ended in bitterness two years ago after a high-profile shareholder row.
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