Turbocharging Web Video

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Seeking to reach potential viewers online, Nickelodeon and VH1 last week launched enhanced, video-rich sites that will feature both exclusive and network library content.

Nick’s “TurboNick” and VH1’s “VSpot” will offer users both long- and short-form video clips, as well as premieres of new shows that will run prior to their debut on the respective networks.

Executives say the sites will complement both Nickelodeon and VH1 by giving viewers an opportunity to access programming via the Web.

20 HOURS ON NICK SITE

The TurboNick site, which officially launched July 7, will feature more than 20 hours of new programming every week, including popular shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and library titles like Keenan & Kel, according to Mike Skagerlind, senior vice president and general manager, Nickelodeon Online.

The site, which can be accessed through the Nickelodeon (www.nick.com) or Nick Jr. (www.nickjr.com) sites, is divided into categories that represent the network’s animated, teen-targeted and vintage programming titles.

Given the increase in quality of broadband-distributed video and Nick’s vast library of titles, Skagerlind said TurboNick allows the network to serve its kids-targeted audience via the web. He added that 90% of Nick.com visitors have broadband connections.

“We know that our audience, both kids and parents, are spending a lot of time online and we want to be where our audience is,” he said. “We’ve followed our audience from television to mobile phones and now into broadband video.”

In addition, the service — which runs on Microsoft’s Windows Media 9 platform — will also offer full-length episode premieres such as Catscratch, Nick’s new animated series, which debuted via TurboNick and was set to premiere on Nickelodeon July 9.

Skagerlind said the site has had nearly 2 million video streams since July 1, when the network conducted a soft launch of the service.

Along with original programming, the site will also feature advertising from such companies as Topps, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Activision, and film studio Sony Pictures. But Skagerlind said the commercials will not run during any show.

“We don’t want to bombard kids with stuff, but at the same time this is an ad-supported service,” he said. “We think the balance seems to be right.”

Along with TurboNick, the network last week also launch a parents-targeted video area on Nickjr.com. The Nick Jr. Parents TV area features playful “how-to” parent/child do-together activities, such as how to make finger puppets resembling characters from The Backyardigans or create musical instruments, as well as provide behind the scenes looks at the world of Nick Jr. A third video-enhanced site, Nick Jr. Video — featuring more than 100 video clips from preschoolers’ favorite shows and interstitials — will launch Aug 10.

Following on the heels of MTV’s enhanced broadband site Overdrive, VH1.com (www.vh1.com) last Thursday launched VSpot, which offers content from VH1’s original shows as well as exclusive and vintage music videos and other entertainment-based video programming, according to the network’s vice president of digital media Tina Imm.  

“What VSpot allows us to do is to deliver a whole new entertainment center to focus and highlight video programming, as well as to develop original programming,” Imm said. “It’s another sexy, sophisticated screen to check out the programming that we have.”

'SURREAL LIFE’ PREMIERE ON VSPOT

The site will also serve as a marketing tool for VH1: VSpot last Thursday aired the premiere episode of the network’s Surreal Life 5 series three days before the show bowed on VH1.

Imm said the site’s three channels — targeting VH1 original shows, music and movies — will feature original programming including short, 15-minute interviews with numerous artists like Moby, outtakes from its original series like Hogan Knows Best and movie trailers, interviews and features.

“VH1 is such a phenomenal brand that covers everything from music and entertainment,” Imm said. “What this allows us to do is go broader and deeper across different categories.”

Neither Skagerlind nor Imm expected a backlash from operators who may feel slighted that Nickelodeon and VH1 programming that they’re paying a license fee for is running free on the Internet. “We’re working very closely with the network so TurboNick is entirely complementary to the channel and is helps promote upcoming programming on the network,” Skagerlind said. “Also, the amount of programming available on the site is limited.”

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