Teaming Up On Online Video

This story was also posted on the Post I.T. blog.

By Kim Hart

Two local companies joined forces today in an attempt to give online video its fair share of digital advertising revenue.

Anystream, based in Dulles, provides video production software and content management tools to format videos for media sites. Its most recent high-profile project was to manage NBC's Olympic video coverage on the Internet.

The company announced today its plans to acquire Voxant, based in Reston, which syndicates online video content across thousands of sites and collects advertising revenue for the content producers along the way.

The acquisition joins the complimentary components of the two companies, executives say. The goal is to automate the process of formatting, distributing, and monetizing clips and full-length videos--helping portals and Web sites gain viewers with targetted content while also helping media companies make money off the content they produce. The combined company--the new name has not yet been announced--will also index all the video inventory so users can find content through search engines or a Web site's search function.

"From a technological perspective, the days of appointment TV--the model we've been living with for the past 50 years--is over," said Fred Singer, Anystream chief executive. Instead, video will be watched online, whenever a user wants to watch it.

Singer and Marcien Jenckes, chief executive of Voxant, had stints at AOL, where they tried to figure out how to move from a portal model to a distribution model. Singer was a founder of the Washington Post Online Service (now WashingtonPost.com).

But they're far from being the only ones experimenting in the growing world of online video distribution.

Singer and Jenckes say they have a leg-up on competitors because they already have big-name clients. Voxant manages 2 million licensed video assets from more than 400 content firms, such as MTV, CBS and Reuters, and distributes them to 30,000 affiliate sites. Anystream has about 700 customers including CNN and Discovery Networks. Voxant's technology will help those clients better monetize the content.

Another key difference: The merged company only deals with premium, professionally produced video content, rather than the homemade videos you'll find on YouTube. Singer and Jenckes say that provides a safe, trusted environment for advertisers who aren't comfortable placing their brands next to potentially inappropriate or racy material.

The biggest hurdle up to this point has been scaling the capabilities to attract big advertising budgets.

"The goal is to graduate from being an experiment to being a partner," Singer said.

By Dan Beyers  |  September 23, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
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