In a move that underscores OverDrive’s plans to support a robust selection of streaming video for libraries, the company on Tuesday announced the appointment of Lee C. Milstein to the newly created position of chief strategy officer. Milstein was most recently head of the news content partnership team for Google’s YouTube division, and previously held positions at leading tech and media companies including AOL and DivX. In his new role, Milstein will lead a market development team for OverDrive from a new office in New York City, according to company officials.
“We expect that streaming video, in the next two years, is going to quickly become one of the fastest growing use models that people turn to in public libraries, and is going to be a platform to help schools and educational institutions reach their students,” OverDrive President and CEO Steve Potash told LJ. “First and foremost, Lee [Milstein] is leading our new streaming video business, which … will go live this year before the holidays, both with existing inventory and [content from] some new major studios.”
OverDrive already has five employees working from home offices or leased desks in New York, and executives from other offices visit the city frequently to meet with publishers, Potash noted. However, this new office will represent the first time the company has maintained a permanent space in the city, and Potash said the goal was “a space that’s designed to build a growing business development and publisher relationship team there.”
OverDrive is one of several library suppliers that have recently begun supporting streaming media via new platforms and new partnerships with studios and distributors. In January, OverDrive announced that its next generation library services platform would include streaming video capabilities, enabling patrons to view digital video content using any device with a browser, and shortly after this summer’s American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, OverDrive officially announced that a deal had been reached with Criterion Pictures USA, a major distributor that will give libraries access to a significant collection of popular movies for its new platform.
Meanwhile, in January, Recorded Books officially launched a partnership with online movie service IndieFlix. This summer, MidWest Tape concluded an extensive beta test and officially launched its new Hoopla platform, and Library Ideas announced Freegal Movies and Television at the ALA Annual conference.
Major Import Agreement Reached in China
Separately, OverDrive last week announced that it had signed an E-Publications Import License Agreement with the China National Publications Import and Export Corporation (CNPIEC), the largest importer of publications in China. CNPIEC is a state-owned enterprise that approves or rejects imported books and other publications according to the regulations of the Chinese government, and provides materials to over 10,000 domestic libraries, universities, and institutions.
“OverDrive is now enabled, through this agreement, to bring its proven school and library vending platform into the People’s Republic of China, with a process [in place] where CNPIEC is going to be evaluating and approving all of the OverDrive-supplied foreign titles to meet with government regulations,” Potash explained, adding that CNPIEC is responsible for the import and approval of about 80 percent of all English language print materials imported into China.
The opportunity came about partly due to OverDrive’s success bringing Chinese-language ebooks to North American libraries that serve large immigrant populations, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The company currently works with several major Chinese publishers, including Cloudary Corporation, Zhejiang Publishing, Publishing House of Electronics Industry, Posts & Telecom Press, Xinjiang Juvenile Publishing House, and Hebei Guanlin Digital Publishing.
“Because we’ve been successful with Chinese ebooks worldwide, we are now poised to bring, not only Chinese ebooks, but also the largest catalog of English and European-language books, and make those available to the Chinese market,” Potash said. “They currently have approximately 500 million English speakers or English learners, so the size of the English readership is possibly larger than [the English-reading population of] North America.”