Howcast Media Expands Distribution

Howcast screenshotHow-to startup Howcast Media on Wednesday reached key distribution agreements with AOL, Metacafe, Bebo, and blip.tv. Together, the new channels allow Howcast content to reach more than 87 million online viewers.

"These new entry points for viewers really complement our own destination site," said Jason Liebman, CEO and co-founder of Howcast. "We want to be able to deliver our how-to videos to viewers wherever and whenever they are online."

Liebman and an old YouTube colleague, Daniel Blackman, launched Howcast in February with $8 million in its first round of funding led by Tudor Investment Corporation.

AOL and Bebo--the global social network that AOL just bought for $850 million--plan to display Howcast content using the startup's own customizable player.

Unlike YouTube and other video-sharing sites, Howcast's destination site and video-player are tailored for how-to content. Videos, for example, feature clear bullet points and are broken into step-by-step segments for viewers to easily follow. Videos can also be played in slow motion, zoomed in on, and shared and discussed with others online.

To further stand out from the throng of instructional and do-it-yourself videos online, Howcast operates a production studio in New York City to ensure that its content measures up to certain quality and style guidelines across 25 tutorial categories.

Each of Howcast's new partners has expressed interest in different categories, with AOL going after more general-interest lifestyle fare. "We're always trying to give our audience tips and advice they can use in their daily lives," said Stephanie Dolgins, senior vice president and general manager, AOL Living.

Howcast has existing distribution agreements with MySpace, YouTube, Verizon FiOS TV, Joost, and ROO. Howcast videos are also available on the iTunes Store as video podcasts.

To scale its output, Howcast has launched a directors' program for amateur filmmakers to create videos. In return for a $50 advance and a revenue-sharing agreement, pre-screened directors can contribute videos by downloading Howcast's production elements, including subject topics, how-to text guides, graphics, music and voiceover tracks.

At launch, Howcast signed JetBlue Airways as a premiere ad sponsor for its travel category. The startup is working with Starcom USA to bring other sponsors onboard.

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