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MTV acquires IFILM to expand Web presence

Posted by iTech - 2005-10-14

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - MTV Networks on Thursday said it acquired IFILM, an Internet provider of short films, news clips and other video snippets, for $49 million as part of its ongoing effort to expand its presence on the Web.
IFILM will be run by its current chief executive officer, Blair Harrison, and will retain its editorial independence.

MTV expects to increase IFILM's current reach to more than 10 million users a month and boost advertising revenues by promoting IFILM with other MTV-owned Web sites and offering MTV content to IFILM users.

"They are growing well on their own, but clearly we have inventory online to help bolster the brand and their traffic," Jason Hirschhorn, MTV'S senior vice president of digital music and media, told Reuters.

"The idea wasn't to MTV-ize IFILM but to ingest a new brand and to give that new brand world renown," he added.

MTV Networks, which is owned by media company Viacom Inc, operates music and youth culture TV networks around the world as well as a host of Web sites. It recently acquired Neopets, an online community geared toward young pet owners.

IFILM has become successful among film and video fans by offering mostly filmmakers a forum in which to distribute their work directly to consumers.

The site sells advertising space to a host of consumer product makers ranging from auto companies to software providers to Hollywood's movie studios, IFILM's Harrison said.

The acquisition also provides one more sign that major U.S. media companies are rapidly returning to the online arena after the dot-com bust of the early 2000's.

Harrison said several factors have combined in recent years to bring back media companies, including the rising number of people with high-speed connections to the Web as well as improvements in video compression technology that have made watching film and TV clips easier and more enjoyable.

Both said that Wednesdays' announcement by The Walt Disney Co's ABC television network to provide TV shows for Apple Computer Inc's new video iPod should bring added excitement to the arena.

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