Spreecast Signs Video Deal with Viacom's VH1, Logo
Spreecast Signs Video Deal with Viacom's VH1, Logo

Spreecast, a social video platform founded by former StubHub chief executive Jeff Fluhr, on Wednesday announced a deal with Viacom to produce online video chats that let viewers interact with on-air hosts from Viacom's VH1 and Logo channels.

Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

For now, Spreecast offers its streaming services for free, but that could change next year when it begins rolling out features designed to help the company make money.

"We don't have any revenue," Fluhr tells Billboard.biz. "But we are currently working on a set of features that will allow us to monetize."

Fluhr says the features are likely to include letting webcasters charge admissions fees for exclusive events, with Spreecast taking a commission. It's also contemplating offering a premium tier of the service with more bells and whistles for video producers. And the company is talking with brand marketers about advertising on the site, Fluhr says.

Launched in November 2011, Spreecast has had some traction with celebrities, which have used the service to conduct live, interactive video chats with tens of thousands of fans who can send text questions. Producers can also select up to three fans sitting in front of their home Web cams to appear on the main webcast and ask questions.

Britney Spears appeared in a Spreecast in September (though she arrived eight minutes after the 19-minute live event began). Other celebrity Spreecasters include Anderson Cooper, who started using the platform in September to record a daily, 10-minute video chat after his morning show, "Anderson Live," and Reese Witherspoon, who used it in February to promote her movie, "This Means War."

The fact that Spreecast has not yet broadcast its business model hasn't deterred investors. The company raised $7 million in Series A financing in September from Meakem Becker Venture Capital, GGV Capital, MentorTech Ventures and others. That's in addition to earlier seed investments from heavy-hitters such as Gordon Crawford, a media and technology investor at Capital Research Global Investors, Edward W. Scott, Jr., co-founder of BEA Systems, and Frank Biondi, former Viacom CEO.

For now, the company's agreement involves only Viacom's VH1 and Logo channels.

"Spreecasts's social video platform provides a unique tool for fan engagement and storytelling," Dan Sacher, senior VP of VH1 and Logo Digital, said in a statement announcing the partnership.

Spreecast is among a growing number of online video ventures seeking to connect celebrities with fans in an interactive manner, including Ustream, StageIt and Shindig. But Spreecast's most direct rival is Google, whose Hangout feature for the company's Google+ social network offers a similar service.

Spreecast, which has fewer than 20 employees, tries to differentiate itself from Google Hangouts by emphasizing its platform agnostic stance, playing nicely with Twitter and Facebook. Hangouts, on the other hand, are seen to be more tightly integrated with Google properties, including YouTube, although archived Hangout sessions can be embedded anywhere on the Web once it has been uploaded and published on YouTube.

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