Social Net Adds Pro Video Content

NEW YORK MySpace has continued its evolution into a Web portal with a plan to provide entertainment and news channels on its site.

The “branded channels” will feature ad-supported content from the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic and Reuters, as well as smaller Web operations like The Daily Reel, Studio411 and Vice magazine’s VBS.tv.

The channels will reside in MySpace Video, a user-generated video service the social networking giant began late last year as a rival to YouTube.

The deals add to the professional video content the site has available. It is airing episodes of Prom Queen, a Web-only show produced by Vuguru, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s company. It has also signed on as a distribution outlet for the video-syndication service in the works by parent company News Corp. and NBC Universal.

MySpace has other portal-type content offerings, such as sections on movies, music and, most recently, news.

The dedicated sections, removed from the unpredictability of user-created profiles, provide a more attractive ad environment for brands.

“We become the second-biggest video site on the Internet without doing anything,” said Jeff Berman, general manager of MySpace Video. “Our product features and content pipeline is based on what our users are doing and what they want.”

Over two-thirds of MySpace videos are viewed on user profile pages, Berman said. Users will also be able to embed the branded channels on their profiles.

“There’s a much higher degree of peer recommendation,” he said.

Berman declined to discuss the advertising model for the videos, or whether MySpace or partners would sell the ads. He did say, however, that he does not foresee a problem with in-stream brand advertisers objecting to not knowing what kind of profile pages carry their spots.

“Those ads are associated with the video rather than whatever else is on page,” he said.

The news and entertainment providers are tailoring their channels for the tastes of the MySpace crowd. Reuters, for instance, will not show its bread-and-butter politics and business news, but instead collections of offbeat stories from its “Oddly Enough” series.