Tribune expands its Web-syndication business to video

Tribune Content Agency, the century-old division that serves as a “clearinghouse” for text and images that flow through Tribune Publishing, is getting into the video-syndication business — and wants to help its publishing partners do the same, too.

To do so, TCA is launching a new video exchange called the TCA Video Network, which will offer more than 1,000 new videos a day licensed from 150 news and media companies including the AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, Scripps Broadcasting and AFP. Tribune’s own properties, including the LA Times and Chicago Tribune, will contribute content as well. YouTube content, via apps for the site’s creators built by Beachfront Media (which is powering TCA’s network), will also be made available for license.

Publishers plugged into the service will be able to access these clips (which include breaking news; local, national and international reports; entertainment and celebrity videos; business and financial news; and lifestyle content) and then license and distribute them on their own sites and mobile apps. Publishers will have multiple options for how they want to distribute the licensed content, whether individually within articles and other stories or as curated channels and playlists. With a few exceptions, ad sales will be handled by TCA.

The video service is a pure syndication play, and on the Web, it’s an important way for publishers to boost video revenue.

“Most publishers have their core audience, but they have a limited reach beyond their own platforms,” said Art Bushnell, the gm of the TCA Video Network. “We hope to take their content to places on the Web where they couldn’t go without us.”

“Syndication makes sense for both publishers who produce content and publishers who curate content,” added Frank Sinton, CEO of Beachfront. With syndication, publishers known for producing high-quality video have a way to get that content to more places, and publishers who aren’t producers but want video on their platforms can do so and make some money in the process.

“There is a higher cost to producing video,” said Bushnell. “The more ways you can offset that cost, the better off you are.”

It’s the same philosophy behind the syndication model in TV. “Having worked in TV — for the first three or four years, if [a studio] breaks even, they’re happy. Most of the money is made in syndication,” said Sinton. “At the end of the day, anyone producing video should think about how to use and reuse their existing library effectively.”

But it’s not as simple on the Web. Publishers, whether they are distributing their own videos or curating third-party content, need to be able to control as much of the syndication process as possible. For video producers, this means having access to robust analytics that show who is watching what and where. For video curators, it means offering a video-viewing experience that satisfies both the content providers and viewers.

This is really hard in the current, fragmented video landscape, and it’s where the TCA Video Network hopes to differentiate.

“You have to go to one vendor for TV, another vendor for mobile, it’s created an ecosystem that makes it really hard for publishers to holistically approach all screens,” said Sinton. The TCA Video Network aims to change that for its content and publishing partners. With the help of Beachfront tech, TCA is making a variety of other services available including app development and analytics down to individual publisher and video asset performance. Other tech tools such as one that matches relevant editorial content with the right video from the TCA library are also in the works.

“We are taking all of these things that used to be cost centers and trying to open them as streams of revenue,” said Bushnell.

Image via Ffooter / Shutterstock

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