Russian ‘social TV network’ Videomore expanding as JV like Hulu

A “social TV network” owned by one Russian broadcaster is transforming in to a joint venture so that, like Hulu in the States, it can serve up shows from multiple channels.

CTC Media Inc launched Videomore in December 2010 with chat and sharing functionality. Until now, the service has contained only catch-up shows from its founder’s own free-to-air TV networks CTC, Domashniy and Peretz.

But now CTC Media Inc says it has agreed to jointly operate Videomore with RTL-owned National Media Group (NMG), allowing the addition of the both catch-up and archive shows from its channels Ren TV and Channel 5.

The formation gives Videomore a greater shot at becoming a more definitive TV portal. Both linear TV and broadband internet audiences are growing attractively in Russia. Videomore claimed an average nine million monthly uniques for the first nine months of 2012.

However, NMG’s Channel One, Russia’s leading broadcast channel, is a notable absentee from the additions — whilst NMG owns a majority of Ren TV and Channel 5, it has only a minority stake in Channel One.

CTC Media’s strategy chief Viacheslav Sinadski explained the partnership rationale in his company’s announcement:

“These two years have given us invaluable experience and a better understanding of the modern viewer’s demands. We have come to the conclusion that our future success depends on three factors:

  1. “the availability of high-quality new content
  2. “the ability to advertise on television
  3. “as well as the overall scale.

“The first two criteria have always been at our disposal, but we can significantly expand the scale of our business only by attracting new strategic partners including media holdings, TV channels and copyright holders.”

Ren TV’s own web video player was already slick-looking.

While Hulu includes shows from several U.S. broadcasters, Project Kangaroo, a UK broadcaster effort to form a single JV portal through which to commercialise their shows, was struck off by regulators a few years back on advertising antitrust grounds.