WashingtonPost.com 'Vidcasts' on iTunes

Spurred by Apple's just-released video iPod, WashingtonPost.com has begun uploading video podcasts to Apple's iTunes music store. The news and short-form documentary video is free, and will be ad-free as well, until the Post can convince its advertisers of the medium's worth, said Chet Rhodes, the Post's deputy multimedia editor.

"We didn't even contact Apple about this," said Rhodes. "We just did it to get a bigger audience for our great multimedia content."

Washingtonpost.com is among the first established media companies to add content to iTunes in the hopes of drawing a larger audience, and eventually monetizing the product with advertising. Several ABC News affiliates have also begun adding video content to the video podcasting section of the iTunes music store.

"I don't see us ever charging for the content we're putting up now," Rhodes said, "but pre-roll I think would work perfectly, once we can get advertisers interested." Rhodes estimated roughly that video would have to be downloaded at least 10,000 times before advertisers would take notice.

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Early last week, CBS Digital President Larry Kramer said CBS would begin distributing its free podcasts on the iTunes music store. Kramer did not, however, address the question on everyone's mind: When will CBS begin distributing more than audio content to Apple? Late last week, CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said he knew of no immediate plans to put CBS video on iTunes.

On the same day that Apple's CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the video iPod, Jobs announced a deal with Disney to offer five of its premiere television shows, including "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," through iTunes. Each episode costs $1.99.

Some in the online ad industry expressed cautious enthusiasm with regard to the video iPod's advertising potential.

"Overnight, Apple has opened up the portable market that everyone's been dreaming about," said Larry Allen, the general manager of Unicast, a provider of pre-roll ad technologies. "I think it will offer advertisers opportunities for brand awareness and customer retention almost immediately."

Allen then added: "But, because the only metric available with the iPod is the number of times something is downloaded, you'll see a lot of advertisers waiting on the sidelines until better tracking is available."

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