Blip.tv channels new deals with YouTube and others

Web video start-up revamps its platform and adds an array of content partners to establish itself as a distribution center for content creators.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
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Blip.tv the Roku Digital Video Player
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NEW YORK--Online video start-up Blip.tv on Tuesday unveiled an wide range of infrastructure and partnership announcements that, according to chief operating officer Dina Kaplan, explains why "for the past year we have been very quiet."

Part of Tuesday's announcement, made in conjunction with a breakfast event at Blip.tv's downtown offices here, was a new set of syndication partnerships with hosting platforms YouTube and Vimeo, local TV station NBC Local Media New York (which acquired video production company LX.TV last year), and set-top box manufacturer Roku. It's also expanded existing partnerships with TiVo, Sony, and Verizon Fios. Blip.tv, geared toward video producers and creators who want a hosting, distribution, and marketing platform for episodic programs rather than standalone videos, has existing partnerships in place with iTunes, AOL Video, MSN Video, and a number of others.

blip.tv logo

"Before today we used to say that Blip reaches half of the video Internet," CEO Mike Hudack said at the press conference. "Today I'm really happy to announce that we probably reach about 80 percent of the video Internet."

Blip.tv, which Hudack says was designed "to make independent Web shows sustainable," runs its own hosting platform but also distributes to partner sites--basically, letting members upload to many platforms at once--and runs an optional advertising program that it splits 50-50 with show creators.

Additionally, Blip.tv unveiled on Tuesday an upgraded "dashboard" for members to manage the shows they've uploaded: new features include batch-editing of episodes, statistics and analytics from new partner TubeMogul, enhanced advertising capabilities from FreeWheel Media, and cross-platform comment and friend request management.

With the dashboard, members can use a series of check boxes to choose the platforms to which they want to upload their videos, track views and revenue earned on a series of graphs, and opt to integrate advertising.

"We started Blip about four years ago with five friends, and the idea was really simple," Hudack said. "There were all these people making Web shows and we figured they needed help with hosting and distribution and all this stuff." At launch, the start-up was effectively a YouTube competitor that was only differentiated by its appeal to the independent video blogger community, but Blip.tv has since been crafting itself into more of a distribution platform rather than yet another place to upload and watch videos.

Now, only four percent of Blip.tv users' 72 million monthly total views are on the Blip.tv platform.

The differentiation is enough so that Blip now considers the Google-owned YouTube to be a partner, not a (significantly larger) competitor. "One of the things that we really believe in is an open Web, and we believe in data, and we believe in supporting content partners and independent show creators," YouTube content partner manager George Strompolous said at the event on Tuesday.

But the announcement also had an old-media angle: thanks to the partnership with the NBC affiliate, some Blip.tv creators' shows will air on New York Nonstop, an NBC-owned station in New York that specializes in short-form digital content like the shows it acquired with LX.TV, and possibly even on the main WNBC channel.

Blip.tv raised its most recent round of funding last October in a round led by Bain Capital Ventures, and soon after moved to a new office space in the downtown SoHo neighborhood that has become a social fixture for the local tech community in part because of its built-in beer taps.

The company has not yet provided a roadmap regarding revenues and profitability.

This post was updated at 7:22 a.m. PT.