T5M, a “socially-conscious online TV network”, launched this weekend with investment from Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman, Reuters (NSDQ: RTRSY) Greenhouse Fund founder John Taysom and Mexx clothes company founder Rattan Chadha. T5M will be aimed at showing exclusive videos associated with social causes and launched as a partner to Nelson Mandela’s 46664 concert on World AIDS Day. It’s a testbed for Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) Silverlight Flash competitor and, on this showing, not a perfect one – the website doesn’t work in Firefox, is processor-hungry and offers an awkward interface that minimises video’s role in the experience.
Somewhat hubristically, T5M stands for “the fifth medium” – the first four being print, radio, TV and Web 1.0 – but it’s not a significant enough advance to be considered additional to medium number four. Counting recently departed Lycos UK Jeffrey Lee among its ranks, T5M has high-profile backers and appears to be predicated on partnering with major social issue campaigns – but events like Live 8 and the Live Earth Concert tend to partner on video with big-pipe distributors like MSN and AOL (NYSE: TWX) that can give them the really large audiences they need. T5M wants to “eschew the ‘junket circuit’, where stars puff forthcoming films and books”, The Times reports, but the site’s launch press is adorned with quotes and videos from the likes of Ray Winstone, and James Blunt. Enterprises are emerging that seek to bring a bit of social conscience to the online video world – Friction.tv is so far doing well and Current is already highly compelling – but we’ll have to wait and see whether T5M can live up to its high billing.