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Bebo Signs Big-Name Content Partners

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NEW YORK U.K. social network Bebo has signed 22 media companies as partners to add content in the hopes of increasing its audience engagement.

Its roster of global partners includes the BBC, CBS, ITN, MTV, Sumo TV, Turner Broadcasting and Yahoo!

Bebo is calling the program Open Media, allowing media companies to join without going through the licensing negotiations process.

Media partners can distribute their content through their own video players, which carries over the advertising attached to their content. The media companies retain 100 percent of their ad revenues. The social network would provide ad sales and player technology for those partners who don't have those capabilities.

Open Media is "a bold new vision for social networking and entertainment," said Ziv Navoth, Bebo's vp, marketing and business development. In describing the initiative's impact, Navoth called Open Media a "significant departure" from the licensing or revenue sharing agreements common to social networks and Web portals, one that yields a "breakthrough business model."

Bebo has also created Channel Profiles designed for user comments, reviews, forums, blogs, photos and cross-promotion of other shows from media partners.

"Bebo's Open Media dovetails the CBS strategy of open, multi-partner non-exclusive syndication perfectly. At a time when users can access content on any screen, anywhere and at the time of their choosing, CBS is committed to bringing its content directly to users through platforms such as Bebo's. The risk of not being involved is to have 40 million Bebo members curating other content on their profiles," said Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, in a statement.

Of course, for Bebo's new open approach to have a major impact on the digital media business, the site needs to attract a larger audience in the U.S. According to comScore Media Metrix, Bebo reached 4.4 million unique users in October, versus Facebook's 30 million-plus.