Next New Networks has long avoided the model pursued by many of its smaller, less well-funded competitors: Creating video expressly for advertisers.
That’s pretty much over now. In NNN’s newest series, “Nite Fite,” characters talk up the series’ sole sponsor, Mars’ Starburst brand, and the company gets to premiere the series exclusively on its own site.
The pitch isn’t a stealthy one: Characters make plenty of “selling out” quips. “We don’t make ads,” says Tim Shey, head of network development. But it sure looks like an ad: Mars, which is paying for the first 20 episodes of the series, gets script approval over the creative discussing the company. And when the contract expires, NNN can remove the bits with Starburst references from the video. Financial terms of the deal, brokered by Mars’ digital ad agency Digitas, were not disclosed.
These kind of deals are commonplace throughout the Web video industry (and to some extent, TV). It’s a sign of things to come at Next New Networks; Shey says the company is looking for “deeper integration with sponsors.” Even so, he says they would have made the series, a spinoff of Channel Frederator, with or without Mars’s money.
Next New has raised $23 million in its short life, but wasn’t even trying to do much, revenue-wise until this year. Now it needs to prove that it has a viable business model, and that means making more video that advertisers will pay for. Perhaps a new CEO will push things even further.
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