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Metacafe Creates Entertainment Hubs, Tries New Look

This story was written by Rory Maher.
User-generated video sites have begun addressing advertiser demands by separating professional content from amateur clips and now Metacafe officially joins the rush. The veteran short-form video site, built on the notion of filtering video, redesigned its homepage to feature the first of these channelsmovie trailers, music videos, and sports highlightswith Universal Studios and Fox Home Entertainment as sponsors.  Universal signs on for a four-picture sponsorship deal for front-page takeovers, a noticeable improvement for a site that until now largely had run-of-network, lower-CPM ads on its site.

Plans call for more hubs, including video games and TV clips, to be rolled out over the next year, as Metacafe emphasizes more professional content versus the short user-generated clips that marketers tend to be wary of advertising against. According to CEO Erick Hachenburg, content providers who participate in the hubs will share revenue from the ads sold around their content. In most cases, Metacafe will sell the sponsorships.

Founded in 2003, Metacafe has raised at least $45 million from investors including Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures and Highland Capital Partners. The site had 44 million-plus unique visitors worldwide in December, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) Media Metrix. But only 11 million of thoseone-quarteroriginated from the U.S., putting it far behind on that front.  The company had said in 2008 that one of its key goals was to create centralized parts of its site for more professional content so today's announcement sees this come to fruition. 

The changes follow similar moves at online-video leader YouTube, which recently added full-length professional TV shows and movies and announced a separate music hub called Vevo for Universal Music videos. 

By Rory Maher

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