A shock to the com

AtomShockwave relaunching sites, adds to content

Online game and film distributor AtomShockwave is launching new versions of its dot-coms AtomFilms and Shockwave today, a move it hopes will help quash any rumors that the San Francisco company is shuttering anytime soon.

The relaunch includes the bow of new programming and games on the two sites, including an animated comedy series from Jim Belushi called “The Greedy Show” and Jeff Lester’s live-action comedy “The Last Real Cowboy,” starring Billy Bob Thornton.

It also includes an emphasis on long-term advertising and sponsorship deals, which make up 70% of AtomShockwave’s revenues, with partners that include Ford Motor Co., Levis, Sony PlayStation, SBC Communications, the Gaming Club Online Casino, Kellogg’s and Mazda, among others, that integrate the brands’ products directly within short films and games.

For example, AtomFilms’ pact with Ford centering around the carmaker’s Focus brand launched at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and has now broadened to include the game DJFu on Shockwave.

Additionally, AtomShockwave has pacted with iBeam Broadcasting and DoubleClick to air television-like ads in front of all content available on AtomFilms’ site. Recent tests have revealed that the ads generate a clickthrough rate of between 5% and 30%.

Separate sites remain

Despite speculation since AtomFilms and Shockwave merged last December that the company’s two sites would be folded into one branded dot-com, AtomShockwave has opted to keep the sites separate.

AtomFilms will continue to offer short films as well as animated Web series that were previously available on Shockwave, while Shockwave.com will continue to operate as a destination to play games online. Together, the two sites attract roughly 24 million unique visitors per month.

“I’m big into branding,” Mika Salmi, CEO of AtomShockwave and founder of AtomFilms told Daily Variety. “I worked really hard to create the Atom brand. And Shockwave became pretty mainstream. I didn’t want to lose the feel of both brands. As a separate brand, we can honor what Atom and Shockwave meant.”

Syndie etc.

The two sites will continue to syndicate their programming to other Web sites and to mobile devices as well as offline to television, movie theaters and airlines.

Salmi said the company has spent the past six months trying to cut high overhead costs, including reducing the number of bandwidth providers it uses from six to two, reducing $1 million in office space leases and additional Flash-related royalty fees paid to Shockwave parent Macromedia.

“We realized that none of this stuff had to do with our core business and that it doesn’t cost this much money to run a business like ours,” Salmi said.

But with the cutbacks came staff reductions. The company now has 68 staffers, down from 200 when AtomShockwave first was formed.

“People kind of left us and everyone else for dead,” Salmi said. “But we’ve matched our revenue to our costs. It’s been a scary year, but we’re in good shape now. We’re here to stay. Profitability is imminent.”

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