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Fremantle Breaks with YouTube on Pets Channel Ad Deal

Production firm pacts with Blip for ad sales, first-run distribution

FremantleMedia North America, best known as producer of “American Idol,” is ending exclusive distribution and ad-sales partnership with YouTube for online channel The Pet Collective, pacting instead with digital network Blip.

The pets channel, comprising mix of live animal cams and short-form shows, will continue to be available on YouTube. But Blip will gain first-run distribution window and will act as exclusive ad-sales agent for The Pet Collective.

“We want to work in a partnership with someone we believe has our best interests at stake,” FremantleMedia North America topper Thom Beers said about the Blip deal. “The whole world doesn’t have to be on YouTube. I like what Blip offered us — you feel a little bit more special and important to them.”

The Pet Collective bowed in April 2012, part of YouTube’s $200 million original channels initiative. Fremantle had 12-month deal with vid site for ads and distribution. Channel has 157,000 subscribers and has garnered more than 28 million views.

YouTube’s deals typically split ad revenue 45-55, with content creators receiving the larger share. Beers said Fremantle has better revenue-sharing terms with Blip and better CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) but he declined to divulge details.

In a statement, YouTube said, “Fremantle’s Pet Collective channel recently joined Blip’s content network of over a dozen channels on YouTube. We are supportive of our partners collaborating with others to build incremental opportunities for their channels.”

For Blip, the Fremantle deal is representative of several others the digital media player has in the works, including those with providers of YouTube original channels, CEO Kelly Day said.

Blip and Fremantle are approaching other pet content producers, aiming to develop a “super MCN both on and off YouTube,” in the category, Day said.

Audience for pets programming skews female. Blip will target pet food companies, pet health providers, per stores, pet-friendly hotels and automakers for ads. “Frankly, there are very few places for endemic advertising in this category,” Day said. “We believe we can bring more premium advertisers to this content.”

Other online destinations for pet videos include Discovery Communications’ AnimalPlanet.com. Before joining Blip last year, Day ran digital properties for Discovery.

Series on The Pet Collective include “The Litter” with Sharon Osbourne; “Petodies,” song parodies featuring cute animals; and the dancing/hand-standing/backflipping Olate Dogs, 2012 winner of Fremantle-produced “America’s Got Talent” on NBC.

“We’re the No. 1 pet channel in the digital space. We want to be the best aggregator for all things pets,” Beers said. “To us, [Internet video is] this great laboratory,” he said.

Starting in May, the Blip pet vertical will be available to viewers on Blip.com and across the web via Blip’s distribution partnerships. Blip will experiment with Fremantle to determine length of exclusive content window, ranging from two weeks to 30 days, according to Day.

Fremantle and Blip will produce new series, with about 45 minutes per week of new content. Blip will provide more detail on the Fremantle partnership and other original programming at Digital Content Newfronts event May 1 in New York.

Companies also will pursue brand integration in programming. Beers cited integrated sponsorship with Purina for The Pet Collective, which included a Friskies contest and awards show. Fremantle is excellent at integrating brands into shows, Day said, and such sponsorships are key to the future of digital video. “Margins from media [ad] dollars are too small,” she said.

In addition to “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent,” Burbank, Calif.-based FremantleMedia North America produces shows for U.S. market including “The X Factor” (Fox), “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make A Deal” (CBS), and “Family Feud” (syndication).

Traditional TV players initially were reluctant to engage with digital distribution, according to Beers. Now, however, “people have come to accept that our grandkids are not going to be sitting in front of the television,” he said.

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