Feature streamer plans $50 mil IPO

Site to offer shares despite recent tech stock backlash

SightSound.com, which just inked a 12-picture online deal with Miramax, said it plans to raise about $50 million in an initial public stock offering.

The Lebanon, Pa.-based group, an innovator in streaming movies and other video product on the Internet, also has licensing agreements with Franchise Pictures and a number of independent filmmakers. Its service allows users to digitally download feature films over broadband Internet connections — a process that has many studio execs up in arms.

Movies can be viewed via Microsoft Windows Media Player, which is currently used by about 40 million consumers, the company said in a preliminary filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It didn’t lay out the timing for the IPO, but the announcement comes amid volatile financial markets that haven’t proved all that kind to technology and Internet stocks of late.

Company lost $3.4 million in the nine months ended Sept. 30, 1999, and predicted losses for the foreseeable future.

SightSound will use IPO proceeds for the acquisition of additional content, development and marketing of its own original content, payment of litigation expenses incurred in connection with protecting patents (a patent infringement lawsuit against N2K Inc. is under way), continued development of technology and infrastructure and expansion of sales and marketing.

Company boasts the hardware capacity to download about 380,000 feature-length pics a day, with the ability to increase that number as demand arises. A broadband, or high-speed, user who can sustain a one-megabit-per-second Internet connection can download a 90-minute movie in less than 30 minutes — and that time will decrease as technology advances.

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