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Inside Move: Viacom seeks to join Internet trend

Redstone in talks to buy IFilm for $50M

Rupert’s not the only mogul who can play on the ‘Net.

Sumner Redstone’s Viacom is in negotiations to purchase online video company IFilm in a deal that could be worth $50 million.

As the Internet advertising market has heated up in the past year, other potential buyers have taken a look at IFilm including News Corp.’s acquisition-happy Fox Internet Group and online media company CNET. (Daily Variety, May 11, 2004)

Reps for both Viacom and IFilm declined to comment.

Viacom co-prexy Tom Freston has been as vocal a member of the Internet chorus as any media exec at a time when companies puzzle over how best to cash in on evolving broadband and wireless technology. “We want to be everywhere that our audiences are,” Freston said at a conference last week.

IFilm would be part of the Freston-run Viacom that includes Paramount and MTV after the conglom splits.

Sumner Redstone has previously said he believed Viacom was “underinvested” in the Internet.

Conglom was reportedly in negotiations to buy IGN Entertainment and MySpace.com, before News Corp. ultimately bought them for $580 million and $650 million, respectively.

Viacom’s only Internet buy since Netcos started heating up again was kids site Neopets.com, which it bought for $160 million in June.

IFilm has gone through a number of identities since its founding in 1998. Originally a home for short films and then a portal for movie news and information, it bought and then sold the Hollywood Creative Directory and nearly shut down along with many of its fellow Netcos during the dot-com bust.

Company has rebounded in recent years, though, by hosting movie clips and viral videos that quickly spread across the Internet. In the process, it has swung into the black by attracting video advertising from studios and other marketers spending more money online.

It is held by a number of private investors including Sony Pictures, Rainbow Media, Liberty Digital and Eastman Kodak

Deal was first reported by weblog PaidContent.

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