YouTube is trying to "channelize" itself, Hulu Plus is doing its level-best to ensure it can offer apps on as many types of screens and platforms as possible, and Microsoft is trying to turn the Xbox into an online video and television hub. Online video is looking more and more like regular television in nearly every way but one: the price of advertising it can command. In an attempt to change that, Google, Yahoo, Hulu, Microsoft, and AOL are putting their differences aside to work together on a two-week event called "Digital Content New Fronts," as the Wall Street Journal reports. It will be an event where each company pitches its video ad sales opportunities in an attempt to boost sales and margins. It's intentionally designed to mirror the longstanding tradition of the "Upfront" in television, where each network pitches its new shows to potential advertisers.
Part of the idea is to allow online video providers to get long-term commitments from advertisers, which would theoretically allow more of them to create original content — something of a trend right now. Given the large difference between what advertisers have traditionally been willing to spend on online video and traditional television, it's no guarantee that the plan will make a big difference.