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Bebo repositions as entertainment site

Social network Bebo is set to unveil a string of major content initiatives with partners including the BBC, ITN and Channel 4 as it moves away from community sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, to position itself more as an entertainment portal.

The social network site plans to cash in on the growing demand for online video by beefing up its content offering, with a series of deals signed with media owners for professionally produced content.

It is expected that these deals will include the production of ad-funded programmes to be aired exclusively on Bebo.

In a simultaneous announcement today (Tuesday) in London and New York, Bebo will set out its new content strategy in an attempt to offer something different to MySpace, which has a thriving music community, and Facebook, which is largely a forum for communication.

"The Bebo view is that content and communication are as important as each other to social networks, whereas Facebook views itself as a means of interaction,” said an industry source.

"The point is that the Facebook side of social networks is about communications, whereas Bebo will be announcing an entertainment-led strategy.

"Bebo is keen to capitalise on the success of ad-funded drama Kate Modern, which landed ad money from a range of sponsors including Microsoft and Orange. Bebo then linked with Sony Pictures Television International to produce Sofia’s Diary, a fictional tale with daily interaction from Bebo users.

Production house Endemol was the latest to sign up to a content deal with Bebo to produce a show called The Gap Year, which tracks six travellers, selected from the Bebo community, in their ventures around the globe.

Bebo’s move into content draws upon the industry experience of senior executives at the company.

In April, the social network hired MTV’s president of commercial, strategy and digital media, Angel Gambino, as vice president, music, which is one of the strands of entertainment Bebo is seeking to develop.

News of Bebo’s content expansion comes as MySpace also readies its own expanded professional content offering. In the UK, the company has already worked with broadcasters such as BBC2 and Channel 4 on promoting content. And the platform plans to launch more branded video channels in the near future.

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