Rupert Murdoch has announced the integration of downloadable video, VoIP and IM to MySpace, which News Corp. acquired for $580 million in July. These moves are intended to drive use of the wildly popular social networking site and boost ad revenues (its main revenue stream).
Murdoch announced the new services Monday at a Citigroup media conference in Phoenix. He also outlined plans to offer wireless broadband Internet service through News Corp.-owned DirecTV. The company's push into online media is evident through the launch of Fox Interactive Media (FIM) in July, not to mention Murdoch's outspoken opinion on the maturation of newspaper and other brick-and-mortar media businesses.
Free video, IM and voice are hoped to create more stickiness among MySpace users, in addition to increasing traffic and driving ad revenues. The site has a total of 47 million users and is adding about a million per week. Its average user age is 20, a demographic projected to be heavy users of video, IM and voice. Indeed, MySpace users already have a proven interest in music content and social networking, which these new offerings will each address in some way.
The video content will likely come from News Corp. content assets including the Fox TV network, Fox News Channel and Twentieth Century Fox movie studio. Fox News Channel might not "speak" to the MySpace generation as much as the others. But we'll have to wait and see.
In fact, since News Corp. acquired MySpace, I've been waiting to see what it will do to screw up the site. In other words, an arguably anticorporate MySpace generation could quickly sniff out any commercialization strategies put in front of them. FIM seems to be doing OK so far, and these new offerings, if they aren't perceived as an advertising Trojan horse, should be well-accepted by the MySpace crowd.
But don't forget the site's name. Users have developed a strong and widespread affinity that it is their space. So if Murdoch & Co. wish to keep these users around, they should be careful what they do with it.