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Bebo opens door to media brands

Website claims new business model

LONDON — Bebo, the U.S.-owned social networking site, is claiming “a breakthrough business model for the entertainment industry” that gives users access to free content from global media companies including CBS, MTV, BBC, Turner, ESPN and BSkyB.

Under Open Media, content providers are not charged for access to Bebo. They can use their own video players and pocket all related ad coin.

In return, Bebo, which claims U.S. users spend 47 minutes a day on the site, hopes to make itself more “sticky” and so benefit from increased interest from advertisers and sponsors.

“Every media company is looking for better ways to deliver their content online,” said Bebo topper Joanna Shields.

“By opening our platform to media owners, who gain free access to our community while retaining control over their brand, their content and their revenues, we are creating valuable new inventory for advertisers and a new business model for the entire media industry.”

Bebo, formed just two years ago, claims that it has 40 million users.

In the U.K., the combo reckons it is more popular than rivals MySpace and Facebook.

Many of its users are in the elusive 13-24 demographic. This is why content providers like MTV and the BBC, concerned that too few of its own services reach young auds, are keen to have their content on Bebo.

Asked at a press confab if Bebo wasn’t giving too much away under Open Media, Shields said she was confident about the company’s revenue stream and that the initiative would lead to “stronger engagement” by users with the site.

One noticeable absentee from U.K. players on Open Media is ITV, Blighty’s biggest private terrestrial broadcaster.

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