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Starz logging on to manga online

Unit licenses content for Heavy.com

Starz Media is taking its manga content online.

The Liberty Media division has licensed 40 hours of popular manga content to broadband video site Heavy.com, which will break it into short clips and run it for free, supported by ads.

Move comes as Starz is preparing to re-launch Manga.com, which it owns, as a destination for ad-supported video programming. Heavy and Manga.com will be the only two online destinations where the content, for which Starz controls most or all North American rights, can be streamed.

That’s a pattern Starz is planning to repeat as it starts programming its content online in hopes of growing revenue from Web ads.

“We’d like to build our own sites and find one high-quality partner in a number of genres, including animation and horror,” said Marc DeBevoise, senior veep, business development and strategy for Starz.

Heavy.com is paying a flat fee to access 40 hours of manga films and TV shows from Starz, including classics like “Ghost in the Shell” and “Ninja Scroll.”

“This is our first deal that wasn’t a revenue share, but we thought it was worth it to get a co-exclusive position on some really high-quality content,” said Heavy.com CEO Simon Assaad, who said Japanese animation is particularly popular with his site’s young male audience.

Starz already sells its manga animation on DVD and licenses it to the Sci Fi Channel. In an effort to prevent cannibalization, Starz will cycle content on and off of the ‘Net

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