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Samsung Launches Mobile-Video Service for Galaxy Devices

Milk Video service's 18 content partners include Condé Nast, Maker Studios, Funny or Die, Vevo and Vice

Samsung has launched a short-form mobile video service available exclusively for Galaxy devices owners — angling to give consumers a new reason to buy its smartphones and tablets instead of Apple’s.

The consumer-electronics maker’s Milk Video service, initially available only in the U.S., will be populated with top-trending clips, presented in an app that provides personalized recommendations. At launch, Samsung has deals with 18 entertainment companies and networks for video content, some of it exclusive, including Condé Nast Entertainment, Disney’s Maker Studios, Funny or Die, Red Bull, Vevo, Vice, BuzzFeed, AwesomenessTV and NBCUniversal’s Fandango.

While individual video services — like YouTube, for instance — offer their own mobile apps, “there wasn’t (one) single place to go to find video that was fun to discover,” said Kevin Swint, VP of content and services at Samsung. “We hope to guide users to the best online video content out there.”

Additional content partners for the Milk Video service are Artists Den, @Hollywood, CollegeHumor, Cracked, DanceOn, Machinima, The Onion, Refinery29 and Tastemade. It also serves content from sites such as YouTube that syndicate their content publicly.

“We’re partnering with some of the best brands in new media to deliver great content across our consumers’ passion points: music, comedy, lifestyle and entertainment,” John Pleasants, EVP of Samsung Media Solutions Center America, said in announcing the service. Pleasants, former co-president of Disney Interactive, joined Samsung this summer.

The Milk Video launch represents the latest pivot in Samsung’s media strategy. This summer, the company shut down its video storefront for smart TVs and mobile devices, which offered movies and TV shows for rent or purchase.

In March, Samsung debuted Milk Music, a streaming service powered by Slacker Radio with 200 programmed stations, for Galaxy devices. “The obvious place to go was video,” said Swint, who previously worked at Apple as director of the iTunes movies store.

As with the music app, Samsung designed Milk Music to be “natively mobile,” Swint said. The app will refine content recommendations based on what users watch and repost, as well as who they choose to follow and like. The content is available only via Galaxy devices, but the app will let users share what they’re watching via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Exclusive content on Milk Video is slated to include two Funny or Die series — “The Q,” about two dudes thrown into quarantine and have the time of their lives, and “Dumb Gentleman’s Handbook” — set to debut in January 2015. Next year, Red Bull will furnish exclusive clips from the energy drink brand’s Signature Series of sporting events from around the world, and Vice has committed to produce a weekly series for Milk Video premiering in Q1 2015.

Samsung selected video partners for Milk Video by “looking at who was doing the most innovative, popular content that would appeal across our user base,” Swint said.

At the outset, Milk Video will not run ads in content licensed for the service, although Samsung is preserving ads in syndicated content. “It goes back to the goal of adding value to owning a Samsung device,” Swint said.

Mobile video usage has soared in the past few years: U.S. adults in 2014 spend an average of 33 minutes per day watching video on mobile devices, up from 22 minutes last year, according to research firm eMarketer. And, Swint noted, the surge in mobile-video viewing has driven demand for larger-screen devices; he said Galaxy owners over-index on video usage versus other smartphone users.

The Milk Video app is available through Google Play for the following Samsung devices: Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Mega, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S 4 mini, Galaxy S III mini and Galaxy S 5.

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