Steady flow of online video deals

Emerging online video markets have been keeping investors and acquirers busy, with Google making the latest move through its recent purchase of tiny startup Omnisio. The California-based startup, which received seed funding from Y Combinator, launched in March and offers an online video editing widget that enables users to slice and mash existing online videos, add text and audio commentary and create proprietary slideshow presentations. Google plans to integrate Omnisio’s technology and its three Australian ex-pat founders into its YouTube platform.

In the past two years, companies have spent more than $7bn on more than 50 deals in the (broadly defined) online video space. The largest of these was Google’s purchase of YouTube for $1.65bn in October 2006. Rival Yahoo has also been active. It picked up video sharing site Jumpcut two years ago, as well spending $160m for video distribution platform Maven Networks earlier this year and a total bill of nearly $1bn for related advertising networks BlueLithium and Right Media in 2007.

Meanwhile, traditional media bigwigs are also banking on online video and advertising markets. In March, News Corp and NBC launched their $100m joint TV venture, Hulu, just month after picking up Chinese startup Mojiti, which serves as the TV streaming platform for Hulu. Although professional video streaming services such as Hulu are expected to be able to secure ad dollars quicker than user-generated video sites, it’s still early in that market.

One market where we see tremendous opportunity is for ad-based mobile services. Consider nine-year-old MobiTV, which has been streaming to mobile devices since 2003. Operating on a subscription-based revenue model, MobiTV claims profitability. Last year, the company received $100m in its latest round of VC funding, and is actively looking to use that cash to buy its own advertising network. In this crowded and bustling marketplace, the top Internet and media behemoths would do well to pay attention to well-footed upstarts like MobiTV.

Selected online video deals

Date announced Acquirer Target Deal value
July 30, 2008 Google Omnisio $15m (reported)
Feb. 12, 2008 Yahoo Maven Networks $160m
Sept. 12, 2007 Hulu Mojiti not disclosed
Oct. 9, 2006 Google YouTube $1.65bn
June 27, 2006 Yahoo Jumpcut not disclosed

Tapping online TV ad revenues

After running up an M&A bill of more than $10bn on advertising deals last year, Internet titans are now taking the wraps off some of the platforms built on those acquisitions. This week, for instance, Google struck a content distribution deal with Family Guy founder Seth MacFarlane. Google will distribute a new Internet-exclusive cartoon series using the AdSense platform it picked up through its $280m acquisition of Applied Semantics back in 2003. Additionally, Google launched its Google Affiliate Network, which is essentially a re-branding of DoubleClick’s affiliate marketing product, Performics.

Through the AdSense deal, Google will syndicate two-minute ‘webisodes’ with accompanying advertisements to thousands of demographically chosen websites. Of course, other sites already offer Web video streaming. However, few of them have found a way to offer the content in a profitable way. Consider the online TV network Hulu, a $100m joint venture of NBC and News Corp that streams videos from its stand-alone website. Although it consistently sells out its ad inventories, Hulu still struggles to get viewers to its site, much less run profitably.

One boost to the flagging revenue outlook for this market may well come from online video advertising markets, particularly mobile video markets. While the top players, including Google, keep busy monetizing on previous acquisitions, we expect the scores of smaller players to get snapped up. Among those that might find themselves on a shopping list: VC-backed Qik, which streams live TV and video to mobile phones and enables users to upload content to social networking websites; a similar startup, Myframe’s Flixwagon, which has partnered with MTV Israel; and finally,’s, based in San Francisco, is streaming video on the iPhone. If any of the big online advertising platforms want to go wireless, we expect they will probably take a close look at one or more of these startups.

Selected Google online advertising deals

Date announced Target Deal value Company description
April 13, 2007 DoubleClick $3.1bn Online advertising and marketing services
April 23, 2003 Applied Semantics $281m Online advertising and analytics platform

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase