MyPod Studios is Choosy about Picking Online Videos for Its Platform

7/12/12Follow @jpruth

With the Web swamped by a morass of puerile videos of cats at play and the like, New York-based startup MyPod Studios has set out to build a digital oasis for viewers who are selective about what they watch. CEO Jay Miletsky says his platform only hosts content that he and the staff decide are worth posting. This gated approach sacrifices video quantity but Miletsky says it appeals to viewers—and brands that use the medium for marketing—who want content focused on their interests. “We reject 75 to 80 percent of all the content that gets put in front of us,” he says.

MyPod Studios, founded in late 2010, is populated with user-generated content, as well as videos sponsored by brands that use the platform for marketing. The site currently hosts about 8,000 videos, and Miletsky says he does not plan to accept more than 20,000 videos. “That is still more than anyone wants to watch in their lifetime,” he says. “It keeps the quality of the network higher.”

The website is supported by advertising in addition to paid sponsored content. For example, videos from Motorsport.com can be found on the site and Miletsky says he has approached The Hersey Company to bring more food and drink videos to his platform.

Because videos are screened before they appear on MyPod Studios’ platform, Miletsky believes viewers will more readily find content that appeal to their interests. The company chooses videos, based on creativity and how watchable they are, though it still boils down to the staff’s preference, Miletsky says. The website’s lineup includes videos for entertainment, fitness, gaming, and style.

Getting accepted by MyPod Studio is only part of the battle for would-be seekers of Web video fame. Content providers are limited to two gigabytes of space for storing videos on the platform. “Once they hit that, if they want to put a new video up they have to take an old video down,” Miletsky says.

Furthermore, the site will pull the plug on unpopular videos. “We’ll send the content provider a letter telling them they have a few months to get page views up otherwise we’re going to kick you off the network,” Miletsky says.

Miletsky is far from alone in trying to bring order to the chaos of online videos. Video sharing site Vimeo in New York, for example, showcases clips picked by its staff, and it sorts videos into categories to help users discover new content. New York’s Blip.tv—backed by Bain Capital Ventures, Canaan Partners, and Ambient Sound Investments—hosts Web videos but is focused on episodic Web series rather than random viral videos.

While high-volume content sites such as YouTube do offer channels, categories, and playlists, Miletsky says it can still be a challenge to get past the hokey content. “It takes a little bit of an effort on these open networks to find something,” he says.

MyPod Studios also plans to create original content in-house, he says. At the end of June, the company moved from Black Ocean’s incubator into Bravo Studios (not affiliated with the cable network) on West 27th Street. That gives MyPod Studios access to green screens to shoot video. “We’ll be doing a lot of how-to stuff and some food and drink [shows], so we’re not at the mercy of individuals with cell phones who feel like uploading a schoolyard fight,” he says. The move also puts Miletsky among media producers who may be looking for distribution outlets.

The idea for MyPod Studios emanated from Miletsky’s work in marketing. He was CEO of Totowa, NJ-based advertising and marketing company PFS Marketwyse, which became Mango! Marketing. The ad firm worked on a project in for client ASCO Power, a division of Emerson Electric, to build a custom video platform to be used for marketing purposes. ASCO Power declined to adopt the proposed platform, citing costs, but Miletsky was able to out-license it. ASCO Power came back and signed on under those terms. Washington Mutual was also a customer.

Unfortunately WaMu, the platform’s largest customer, went out of business and Miletsky shelved the idea to focus on his firm’s ad and marketing business. In 2010 he decided to part ways with the agency he founded to take another shot at the online video sector and founded MyPod Studios. Initially he considered reviving to the licensed platform model to pursue business clients but he pivoted to focus on the consumer audience and generating revenue through ads. “I hesitated at first,” he says. “I didn’t think we needed another YouTube or Metacafe.” So he settled on the strategy of creating a gated online video community, and MyPod Studios made its platform available to the public last September.

MyPod Studios is backed by Black Ocean in New York and angel investors, though Miletsky says his company has not needed much funding thus far and is already profitable. “We’ve raised a little less than $1 million but we haven’t given away a lot [of equity],” he says.

Miletsky says he wants his company to evolve into a diverse source of online entertainment and information—and not just videos. The popularity of the food and beverage content, he says, led to the creation of a companion website, MyPodcooks.com, which features written recipes, tips for throwing parties, and instructions for making mixed drinks. A similar site for health and fitness is also in the works. Miletsky says he plans to continue offering selective online content, likening his role to that of a news editor picking the top stories to deliver to the audience. “Just because [cloud storage] is cheap,” he says, “why do we have to put everything that’s on film on our network?”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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