CNET eyes iFilm purchase

Deal would reportedly not include publishing business

A correction was made to this article on May 11, 2004.

IFilm is talking to online media company CNET Networks about an acquisition in the neighborhood of $10 million.

An iFilm spokeswoman declined to comment, but a source close to the company said iFilm has received several acquisition queries since it sold OTX to Zelnick Media and Bob Pittman’s Pilot Group in January for $30 million (Daily Variety, Dec. 23).

Deal would reportedly not include iFilm’s publishing business, which puts out the Hollywood Creative Directory and would have no fit for a company like CNET. HCD would presumably be spun off or sold to another suitor.

A CNET rep said it was corporate policy not to comment on rumors. But such a purchase would fit into its existing strategy. Company recently acquired and re-launched music site MP3.com, and execs have openly talked about wanting to move into the TV and movie arenas.

The two firms have an existing connection — iFilm co-founder and former CEO Kevin Wendle was a co-founder of CNET.

For media companies that want to get into the online movie business, iFilm remains the only top-rated site not owned by a conglom.

And in the wake of Google’s recent filing for a $2.7 billion IPO, as part of which it revealed its stunning advertising revenue figures that grew 177% last year to $961.9 million, acquisitions that let buyers take better advantage of online marketing are once again looking promising.

Also reportedly on the block is film review compilation site Rotten Tomatoes. Sources say it’s considering bids around $10 million from both CNET and vidgamer site IGN/Gamespy, which is looking to expand into other media.

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