Peter Kafka

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Vevo, Universal Music’s Hulu for Video, Gets a Salesman

david kohlVevo, the music industry’s attempt to create a Hulu-like hub for its videos, is going to attract a lot of eyeballs when it launches later this year. Here’s the guy who’s supposed to attract advertisers: David Kohl, a former Nokia (NOK) executive, who starts work today as the site’s sales boss.

Kohl’s job is a key one at the venture, whose premise is that the music industry can do a better job of selling its video inventory than sites like Google’s (GOOG) YouTube. Vevo is a joint venture owned (for now) by Sony (SNE) and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group; YouTube will help power the site and share in some of its revenue.

In theory, there could be a lot of dollars to go around. When Vevo opens its doors later this year, it is expected to generate some 450 million video streams a month. In theory, the fact that a single company controls the way the videos are displayed and distributed will make those streams more attractive to advertisers.

vevo-logoBut there are plenty of skeptics who think the site will flounder, in large part because the music industry has never figured out how to run a successful consumer business and because media companies have a terrible track record when it comes to joint ventures. In Vevo’s favor: They said the same thing about Hulu, and that venture has been a success, at least operationally.

Kohl will run a six-person sales team he intends to expand, people familiar with Vevo’s strategy tell me. Until now, Vevo head Rio Caraeff has been overseeing sales himself–and learning on the job, since he didn’t have any sales experience of his own. Vevo now employs about 45 people.

At Nokia, Kohl ran the company’s interactive ad group; he has also put in time at Viacom’s (VIA) MTV Networks, Vivendi Universal and Comedy Central.


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”