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MySpace Suffers From Premature Syndication

Briefly runs Fox Digital series elsewhere

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Arguably the biggest hang-up in airing an original series online is keeping control of distribution. Well, a recent mess involving Fox Digital Studio, MySpace and online video site MyPod Studios won't help matters.

Fox Digital had granted MySpace exclusive ad-supported online distribution rights for its digital-only series "Wolfpack of Reseda" and began airing the series on the social-network-cum-enigma in February (the series is also available on a pay or subscription basis via iTunes and Netflix). But on April 6 Adweek learned that the series was also available at Wolfpackpod.com, a domain owned and operated by online video platform MyPod Studios. How’d that happen?

Jay Miletsky, founder and CEO of MyPod Studios, said a distributor supplied MyPod with the series content before asking the site to remove the series last week after it had been available for roughly a week. He refused to say whether the distributor was MySpace, Fox Digital Studio or another party.

Dan Berger, vp of corporate communications at Fox Digital’s parent company News Corp., said in an email this week that “MySpace is the exclusive ad-supported distributor for Wolfpack and the only place to watch it for free at launch.”

That language would seem to indicate MySpace would eventually be clear to deliver the series to MyPod without issue. But a source said that while MySpace may syndicate the series in the future, Wolfpack's appearance on MyPod was inadvertent, which is why the series was taken down as soon as it was discovered. That the show was taken down so suddenly suggests that it shouldn't have been put on MyPod in the first place.

For its part, MySpace initially didn't seem to know about the syndication deal. Then it did. Then it stopped talking. Neda Azarfar, marketing director at MySpace’s parent company Specific Media, said in an email last week that Myspace had begun syndicating the series as part of a promotional plan to boost viewership.

Azarfar then wrote in a subsequent email that MyPod Studios was “a site we syndicated on” but did not respond to follow-up emails sent this week to confirm that MySpace supplied MyPod with the series. MySpace is also the exclusive ad-supported distributor for Fox Digital’s original series "Let’s Big Happy," which debuted last month, and so far it seems like the site has been able to maintain that exclusivity. 

But what about MyPod’s role in this whole thing? While Berger said MySpace is the exclusive ad-supported distributor, that wasn’t the case. MyPod’s Miletsky initially said through a spokesperson that the site didn’t run ads against the videos. But after being presented with Wolfpackpod.com’s source code showing that a preroll ad had been slated to run with the videos, Miletsky said in a phone call with Adweek that the ad was a spot for “Wolfpack of Reseda” that directed viewers to its Myspace hub and that the ads were provided by the unnamed distributor. He added that MyPod didn’t make any money from the ad.