• KickApps Lands NBCU for Social Video Sites

    KickApps and NBCU are announcing a licensing deal this morning which includes KickApps' App Studio and Premium Social Video Platform. The deal enables all of NBCU's entertainment properties to use KickApps' social software solution, expanding upon a prior relationship between the companies which has primarily focused on NBC's local media properties.

    As Marc Siry, NBCU's SVP, Digital Products and Services explained to me, KickApps's key differentiator was its self-service App Studio which allows NBCU's brands to quickly create customized, socially-oriented sites and video players using drag-and-drop tools. Marc said that the self-service aspect to the App Studio was particularly important as each NBCU property has its own customization requirements. With resources tight, it was key to be able to have each property be somewhat self-sufficient. Marc said that social wrapping is essential to all media today, and that no other online video platform that NBCU evaluated offered the same capabilities.

    (As a side note, I have always thought of KickApps as a social platform first and foremost, which also offered video functionality. As a result it's not really a pure OVP, though with its NBC win, KickApps is showing that for some customers, it is a bona fide OVP competitor.)

    NBC has strongly pursued social interaction on its local sites, encouraging users to submit comments, video, and other engagement opportunities. With local media impacted by audience fragmentation, efforts to re-invent how to connect with audiences have been crucial. Looking ahead - though unable to get too specific for now - Marc told me that NBCU already has several projects in the works that will leverage KickApps: a fan site from Telemundo, a new video portal emphasizing "secondary" non-TV program content with rabid fan interest, and a celebrity-oriented user-generated site. Parent company GE is even planning to use KickApps as an enterprise solution for video sharing among internal units.

    Marc said that one other appealing aspect of KickApps was its embrace of Adobe's Open Source Media Framework ("OSMF"). For those not familiar with OSMF (formerly known as "Strobe") it is a public, pre-release initiative aimed at allowing developers to use pluggable components to create rich Flash-based playback experiences. It is still early days for OSMF and it represents something of a challenge to many online video platforms which offer similar integrations as part of their product or through professional services.

    But as Marc explained, OSMF is valuable to NBCU because it is seeing more and more requirements from its brands and advertisers to do custom creative and OSMF gives it a baseline of functionality on which to build. Prior to KickApps, NBCU properties relied mainly on homegrown software for video applications, which Marc said had limited flexibility.

    KickApps's NBCU win is yet another example of how dynamic the market for video solutions is today. I am continually hearing about how specific content providers each have their own unique requirements, so an individual video platform provider can be a perfect fit in one situation, but be less than optimal in another. While some requirements are converging, I anticipate a level of individuality will persist for some time to come, sustaining the OVP fragmentation we've seen to date.

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