Vevo Aims for TV Dollars (With Realistic Shot)

Music video hub lays out its case with impressive stats, new programming lineup

Vevo, like everybody else in the digital video space holding upfronts this week, wants those mythical, magical TV dollars. Unlike some other companies in the space, they might be able to make the best case of anybody.

During a slick upfront presentation (or Newfront, to be more precise), Vevo unveiled six news series, including a bizzare scripted comedy. But the company—a joint venture among Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media—mainly spent its time on Tuesday touting its impressive reach and broadcast quality content, while rattling off an stunning set of statistics.

Vevo now reaches 250 million unique visitors globally each month, according to comScore. The music video hub expects to deliver 36 billion views this year. Execs claim that Vevo reaches a whopping 22 million 18-49 unique viewers a week, while Katy Perry videos alone deliver a TV-esque 3.2 million 18-49-year-olds in a given week. According to CEO Rio Caraeff, Vevo reaches one in four women on the Web, 9 million Hispanics and over 6 million African Americans.

“Vevo is the number one music platform on the Web, period,” he said. Or as famed record producer and X Factor host L.A. Reid put it, “Vevo has been more impactful that MTV ever was.”

There’s little doubt that Vevo is a staggering success. But it certainly helps matters that upon launch the site's content was installed as the default search result for music video queries on YouTube. Even today, it’s still an open question how much that relationship, which is said to be in jeopardy, is responsible for Vevo’s success—and whether the majority of music fans know Vevo’s brand yet.

But during the upfront soirée, the company took pains to emphasize Vevo’s growing ubiquity, with the underlying message being “we’re not just about YouTube.”

Indeed, Vevo is distributed on AOL, Yahoo, Xbox Live and some CBS properties. The company is also heavily integrated with Facebook, while amassing a significant mobile presence (mobile streams have increased by 1,000 percent over the past year).

“We don’t box our content in,” said David Kohl, Vevo’s evp, sales and customer operations.

Kohl rattled off some impressive stats of his own. Vevo has run campaigns for 700 advertisers since it launched in late 2009. Kohl claims its video ads—which account for just two to three minutes of Vevo’s hourly streaming time—boast a 90 percent completion rate. And unlike most YouTube ads, “our ads are not skippable,” he said.

Besides looking to diversify its distribution (and lessen its reliance on YouTube), Vevo wants to move beyond being the home of short video snacking. A recent redesign was aimed at getting users to stick around longer by surfacing more relevant content while users stream videos. Plus, Vevo is rolling out more long-form series.

On the docket for the coming year are Busk or Bust, a reality singing competition produced in conjunction with Shine, as well as Hear Me Out, a dating show where couples are paired based on musical tastes. Also in the works is the reality profile series You Play Like a Girl, which will showcase young female musical talent, and Sound + City, which will highlight the music scenes in cities like Nashville and Portland.

Lastly, and most memorably, Vevo executives unveiled Strange Island, a surreal scripted series produced by some of the talent behind the Nickelodeon preschooler hit Yo Gabba Gabba. Strange Island, described as Flight of the Concords meets Glee, will feature a group of wannabe music stars living on a bizarre island.

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