MySpaceTV Takes On YouTube

NEW YORK News Corp.’s MySpace will launch an enhanced beta version of its video site this week designed to compete with Google’s YouTube.

“This is the next step in the evolution of video on MySpace,” said Jeff Berman, gm of video at MySpace. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

MySpaceTV will be an upgrade to the social networking giant’s current video site, which launched two years ago, and, according to comScore Media Metrix, is currently second to YouTube in the video destination category. The new site will showcase premium content like the Sony Minisodes, which debuted on MySpace last week and features five-minute versions of classic television shows, alongside user-generated content and more polished Internet video offerings like the recently concluded Prom Queen, from Michael Eisner’s Vuguru company.

“It’s going to be a broad and healthy mix just as users like to watch,” said Berman. “It’s really going to span the full continuum of the content curve.”

MySpace already has announced a handful of deals with content partners who will have channels on the site, including National Geographic, The New York Times, Reuters, Fox’s IGN Entertainment, Animation Show and the Daily Reel. MySpace also will be part of the NBC Universal/News Corp. joint venture, which is expected to launch this summer, providing a legal online home for those networks’ TV shows and movies.

MySpaceTV will be open to Internet users who do not have an account on the social networking site, but MySpace users will be able to create their own TV pages by uploading videos to the site. The site will be powered by MySpace’s technology, and videos will be edited and mashed up using Flektor technology, a company that News Corp. bought last month.

“We’re enormously bullish on Flektor,” said Berman. “It is far and away the best set of video editing tools available on the Web.”

He wouldn’t offer specifics, but Berman said that MySpace would be announcing “new features” and “new products” related to video in the near future.

YouTube, though, is still dominant in the online video arena and, according to a Hitwise study released Wednesday, its market share continues to grow. The study, authored by research director LeeAnn Prescott, said that YouTube’s market share has grown 70 percent since January, compared to MySpace Video’s 13 percent growth in the same time period. YouTube’s current market share reached 60 percent this month, compared to MySpace Videos’ share of 16 percent.

According to comScore Media Metrix, MySpace’s total number of video streams has grown by 100 percent since January. This metric, though, counts all videos streamed on the site, including YouTube videos, which, along with nearly any other technology, can be embedded on MySpace pages. The Hitwise study focused solely on traffic to the video Web sites.

Prescott said that when YouTube first launched, MySpace was its largest source of traffic, and that it continues to be a large driver.