VEVO is this year's Hulu. In fact the latest comScore online rankings put the music video hub well ahead of the TV site in audience size -- more than 45 million. It ranks fourth in August numbers, right behind Google, Facebook and Yahoo. But with a hang time of 69 minutes per viewer, this elegantly designed current and back catalog of videos is second only to YouTube in the amount of time it keeps its viewers. TV content online gets all of the media attention, but along with game trailers, music video remains an under-appreciated engine of Web viewing.
VEVO's SVP of Business Development Julie Lee will be on our lead off panel at tomorrow's OMMA Publish Entertainment event in Santa Monica. I expect one of the hot topics for her panel on monetizing online entertainment content will be the promise of expansion onto new platforms for wider distribution. As recent trade reports suggest, this joint venture of UMG and Sony is taking on MTV on all fronts. It wants to be the main syndication platform for music videos and it is vying to become a cross-platform brand of pure music in much the way MTV started. In addition to long-term contracts for Sony and UMG music vid, it also has EMI locked down as well as a deep partnership with YouTube. The site now boasts a range of programming like VEVO Go shows, Live on Letterman and the branded series "Unstaged from American Express and Next Wave" (Schick).
Over the weekend VEVO launched a 45-minute short film from Kanye West. The film is being dubbed a "visual accompaniment" to his upcoming album release. Called "Runaway," West describes it thusly: "the story of a phoenix fallen to Earth, and I make her my girlfriend, and people discriminate against her and eventually she has to burn herself alive and go back to her world." Sounds like a standard girl meets boy, girl burns herself and goes back to her own planet tale.
VEVO is extending itself not only in new content but also onto platforms. The excellent iPhone app launched over the summer, and personally I find it one of the most polished, stylish presentations of entertainment media I have seen on mobile. An iPad app is coming soon. So I am eager to see what these folks do with their set top apps. CEO Rio Caraeff announced earlier this month that VEVO will be on Google TV.
Who knows how effectively Google's TV project will penetrate living rooms. But VEVO clearly is indicating its intention to pick up MTV's discarded mantel as the 24/7 source for music video, and now on the same TV screen as well.
Maybe they should start thinking about some VJs. I vote for the return of Nina Blackwood.