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AtomFilms inks slew of distribution deals

WB Online, H'wood.com, others to expose indies

In a move that will enable it to reach millions of consumers, AtomFilms is expected to announce today a series of distribution deals with major media players — including Warner Bros. Online, NBC’s Snap.com, RealNetworks and Hollywood.com — to show the online broadcaster’s library of short indie pics.

The deals are part of the business plan of the Seattle-based ‘Netcaster, which syndicates its library of short films to venues such as Web sites, homevideo, cablers and airlines; it shares revenues with the filmmakers.

As opposed to other ‘Netcasters, Atom shows only a few of the 200 shorts in its inventory at any one time, rotating a handful of pics each week. Atom unspools only teasers from others shorts in its catalog.

Atom has already inked deals with HBO, the Sundance Channel, Disney’s portal Go Network, 12 airlines, as well as Film.com, SonicNet and e-tailer Reel.com.

Company coup

But the new slate of deals, which also includes agreements with music fan site Atomic Pop, On2.com and search service Streamsearch, is a bigger coup for the ‘Netcaster.

Atom will be one of only a few ‘Net companies to host its own “channel” of original programming on Warner Bros. Online’s upcoming Entertaindom hub.

Warner Bros. Online’s sites attract an average of four million users per month, according to MediaMetrix.

In addition, Atom will be the first provider of short pics to NBC’s Snap.com service for subscribers of high-speed Internet services, as well as to popular entertainment site Hollywood.com.

‘Netcasting software provider RealNetworks will feature Atom’s shorts on its RealGuide. Real lured 8.3 million people to its site in July.

In demand

“We recognize that there is incredible consumer demand for short form entertainment,” said Thomas Frank, senior veep, media publishing and programming, RealNetworks Inc. “Working with Atom will allow us to deliver quality short films and animation in a way that meets the entertainment needs of our audiences.”

Atom will collect revenues either outright from the distributors for product or by sharing advertising revs.

“We always thought the portals would be a big play,” said Mika Salmi, founder and CEO of AtomFilms. “But the important sites for us are becoming areas where people are already looking for entertainment.”

Jay Kim, an Internet analyst with Paul Kagan Associates, said the current slate of distribution deals, especially with Warner Bros. and NBC, will create traffic for Atom and help legitimize the site.

“AtomFilms recognizes that the Internet is another distribution mechanism for content,” he said. “The problem with Internet companies is they’re typically entrepreneurs who like to work outside of the establishment. They say, ‘We’re online programmers and we’re going to do to cable what it did to broadcast.’ That’s not always the answer.”

Separately, Atom has relaunched its site to incorporate its Atom Programming Architecture software, enabling viewers to go directly to the most popular pics, which can be downloaded. Software offers access to content from film festivals, film schools and individual filmmakers. It also allows Atom to attract advertisers by documenting the viewing patterns of users.

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