At its best, user-generated video may be amusing, but it's not a business, at least by the standards of a Hollywood major.
Sony Pictures is relaunching today the Internet video-sharing site Grouper, which it bought last year, as Crackle.com, an entertainment site stocked with original series and clips.
The newly minted Netco aims to serve as a haven for up-and-comers by offering a host of contests and competitions to allow newcomers to get their spec material in front of execs from various Sony Pictures divisions and through deals the site has cut with partners like the Improv comedy club chain.
The new Crackle will offer up numerous channels of original fare, with an emphasis on animation and comedy, such as fresh installments of the live-action comedy "Mr. Deity," which has been featured on Grouper since March. Like other purveyors of original Web content, Crackle is also focused on syndicating its content on its proprietary vid player to partners ranging from AOL to social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and hi5. Crackle also is hatching plans to get its content front and center on Sony's PlayStation 3, which hits the sweet spot of Crackle's target demo.