USA, Centropolis link sites for sci-fi ‘Net

Mothership to dock with Diller site, offer animation and streaming video

NEW YORK — Barry Diller’s USA Networks Inc. and Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin’s Centropolis Entertainment are pooling their interactive science-fiction assets into a network of sites, the companies said Wednesday, building on USA’s SCIFI.com and Centropolis’ Mothership.com.

SCIFI.com was one of the earliest companion Web sites to a cable channel, USA’s fast-growing Sci-Fi network, and is a major science-fiction web destination, logging 2 million users a month. Centropolis launched its net presence with a site backing its 1994 release “Stargate.”

Science fiction is an increasingly hot genre in the U.S. and also lends itself well to international markets. That’s something that could be tested soon as USA Networks’ majority owner Seagram Co. has just agreed to merge with France’s Vivendi.

Anchored by the redesigned SCIFI.com, the network will offer animation, streaming audio and video programming, e-commerce, gaming, chat rooms and bulletin boards and other community sites where users can create their own sci-fi homepages. SCIFI.com will feed the network with its large database of science-fiction news and reviews. It will combine the media and e-commerce resources of USA, which owns the Home Shopping Network, with Centropolis’ storytelling.

Sci-fi films have been among the all-time top-grossing pictures, Devlin said. “We’re thrilled to be working with people who understand and are as passionate about the genre as we are,” he added. The partners said they could use the sites to develop other projects for film and television.

USA also owns the USA cable channel, a handful of broadcast stations and USA Films.

“This is not an awkward coming together,” Diller said, but a logical combination of two properties that complement each other.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

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