You may not have heard of Diagonal View – but as the fourth most watched channel on MySpace and on the verge of overtaking the legendary Family Guy to move into number three – you may well have seen one of its viral clips.
Diagonal view is a partnership between ITN Source and entrepreneur Matt Heiman and as such has access to over a million hours of archive footage from not only ITN, but also its string of high-profile partners like Reuters, Channel 4, Fox News and, as of this week, South Asian broadcasting giant ANI.
The concept is simple, bringing a huge wealth of archive clips to the YouTube generation, but ITN Source is the first major archive to move from the traditional method of selling clips to broadcasting companies to pushing them to a wider audience to rake in partner and advertising revenues.
YouTube, MySpace, MSN and Yahoo
The stats are certainly impressive – not only is Diagonal View the fourth biggest video channel on MySpace, the company is also a top-five commercial partner with MSN, a top-10 partner channel on YouTube and has attracted a mammoth seven million views of its video last week.
"We're looking to overhaul Family Guy as the third most watched MySpace channel in the next seven to 10 days," Heiman said. "We're already ahead of The Simpsons.
"Between the 10 and 17 of November we had seven million views of our viral videos."
"We've also launched the U-Zoo channel and, because of our success, we will be launching an Icons channel and quite possibly a celebrity focused channel as well."
The clips use advertising to generate money and the company expects to make a profit next month – not bad for a concept that has only been running for six months.
"We're very cheap to run," explains Heiman – whose team still works out of the ITN offices but is looking for its own office space. "What we have done is with one editor and one person to upload the footage."
Asha Oberoi, formerly the Head of Multimedia at the Press Association, is the content director for ITN Source, and she points out that using the hours of footage that arrive daily and a wealth of archive material going back to the 19th century makes a lot of sense:
"Using the ITN Source archive as our source means that they have access to massive amounts of footage and that is obviously cheaper than taking a camera crew out and filming new footage," she explains.
ITN Source and Diagonal View both point out that lessons are being learned on a daily basis about making money out of old footage, but as the stellar partnership list suggests, the UK's major internet sites get what they are trying to do.
"Of course other archives are looking to do something similar, and they've been asking us what our 'magic juice' is," adds the engaging Heiman.
"But we've learned some things that we won't be rushing to tell them!"