Adidas.TV Goes Hulu Route

Despite the similarities in its name, the soon-to-launch Adidas.TV hopes to be vastly different from the ill-fated Bud.TV.

The Adidas-branded video service, slated to roll out starting this week, lives at its own Internet hub. But in a nod to the vogue for sharing online content, it is designed to spread Adidas video across the Web.

The service soft-launched Tuesday as part of the Adidas basketball site. There, it houses content from the brand’s NBA endorsers like Dwight Howard, Chauncy Billups and Gilbert Arenas.

Adidas.TV is designed as a global hub for video content produced by the athletic footwear giant and its partners, and the broadband site boasts channels devoted to specific sports. It also has an “Originals” channel of shorts created by Adidas. The venue aims to begin with a library of 75 videos and quickly ramp up to hundreds.

“It is based around the idea that lunchtime is the new prime-time,” said Daniel Stein, CEO of EVB, the San Francisco digital shop that conceived and built the service for Adidas.

Adidas’ strategy is to use the lure of its star endorsers like Howard to counter the marketing might of rival Nike to reach young audiences. In a promotional site for the NBA All-Star Game this weekend, Adidas scrapped the regular microsite for a destination centered on showcasing the experience of the event through Howard’s eyes. Content was gathered on the Adidas site but originated elsewhere. It accumulated feeds from videos Howard uploaded to YouTube, photos on Flickr and short blog updates via Twitter.

Similarly, Adidas.TV content will be available for syndication. What’s more, visitors can transport video in an Adidas-branded player, whether to a blog or 25 social networking sites the unit integrates with. The player includes a logo at the bottom and links back to Adidas.TV. Users can also create their own Adidas.TV widget that receives frequent content updates.

“The point is less about getting people to the site,” said Stein. “It’s more about getting the content to the people.”

The approach is similar to that taken by Hulu, the NBC Universal-News Corp. joint venture that’s become a popular service for high-quality video programming online. One secrets of Hulu’s success: letting users take the content with them. Such lack of portability was a huge knock against Bud.TV, the infrequently visited Anheuser-Busch branded entertainment site that suffered from having its content locked down behind a cumbersome age-verification system.

Adidas.TV is intended for use by the footwear company’s shops, including 180, Riot and Carat. The centralized system is designed to cut down on the inefficiencies of having video managed separately across dozens of Adidas sites worldwide.