by Annelise Berendt
BT has announced a partnership with the creators of the US PodShow Network to launch BT PodShow, a British version of the broadband Internet site that enables creative individuals, media production companies and record labels to distribute their content direct to consumers.
Comment: This is an interesting and strong move for BT. By partnering with the creators of a successful venture in the US, BT is getting know-how and expertise in the user-generated content (UGC) arena, and most importantly expertise that knows how to monetise UGC through solid advertising relationships. PodShow in the US is funded by big-brand advertisers more akin to the TV broadcast network model, rather than the click-through approach of the Internet. This model will be replicated in the UK, although BT says that subscription may become a possibility further down the line.
For PodShow’s founders looking to enter the UK market, BT provides a readymade broadband customer base, a reliable network and over the longer term potentially a way into the networked home. PodShow will become part of BT Vision’s IPTV offering, due to launch later this year, and will be offered to BT Broadband users, as well as being available to all UK Internet users via a URL. It will also be available on mobile. BT also represents a trusted name with which to draw in the big-brand advertising community.
But whether using the BT brand is such a good idea in terms of drawing in the punters remains to be seen. Tagging a corporate giant’s name onto a UGC service may reduce its appeal to the generation of consumers-turned-content-producers that has built the social networking giants including MySpace, YouTube and Bebo. BT will never be a “cool” brand, and BT PodShow is right not to attempt to replicate these sites.
BT says that the venture is a hybrid between social networking and a media network; essentially it is using the social networking element to support the aggregation of quality content. But getting the message across to consumers as to exactly what this service offers them may prove more difficult than expected.
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