Social Networks Become The New T.V.

Today, Bebo announced Open Media, “a radical new vision for social media and entertainment that gives media companies free and open access to Bebo’s 40 million users worldwide and the Bebo community free and open access to thousands of hours of premium entertainment content from some of the world’s best known media brands.” These brands include “CBS, MTV Networks, BBC, Turner, ESPN, Yahoo!, Next New Networks, Crackle and more.” As I posted this morning, Compete.com published statistics stating that Bebo had 2.83 million active users last month.

This new partnership by Bebo emphasized the continuing trend of social networks merging with mainstream media. This trend began when News Corp. aquired MySpace over two years ago. MySpace has been focusing on launching exclusive shows and Bebo has been doing the same. While it appears that Bebo and MySpace have been the primary players in this space, Facebook has been signaling their intent to enter the space as well with the launch of their new Pages service.

While Facebook just entered the media space, the Open Media service is Bebo’s entrance into the viral distribution space. According to the press release, Open Media “allows users to store and curate within their personal profiles their favorite music and video content; and virally distribute that content throughout their ‘friends network’ and the wider Bebo community.” This viral distribution comes from Bebo’s alternative newsfeed feature that is displayed on a user’s personalize homepage.

As more people spend time on social networks, look for them to build similar patterns as television networks. Myspace, Facebook and a third network (Orkut or Bebo) will end up being the primary distributors of content (similar to NBC, FOX, CBS and ABC). The smaller social networks including Hi5, Friendster and LinkedIn will become the equivalent of cable access channels.

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