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Yahoo! gets reunited with an old flame

Deal is similar to former pact with Fandango

Just two years after switching sides in the online ticketing war, Yahoo! Movies is switching back, signing an exclusive deal with MovieTickets.com.

Yahoo! signed with Fandango in 2004, ending its previous affiliation with MovieTickets.com.

New deal is similar to the old one with Fandango. Showtimes on Yahoo! Movies will link to a page run by MovieTickets.com, but co-branded with the two companies.

Move could cause confusion for Yahoo! Movies users, as MovieTickets.com sells tickets for a different group of theaters than Fandango, and the competitors don’t share listings.

Fandango’s deal with Yahoo! lasted just over two years, and the duration of the new agreement with MovieTickets.com is expected to be at least that.

Terms of the deal weren’t available, but Fandango was apparently unable or unwilling to pay the fee Yahoo! was seeking for access to the 12.1 million monthly visitors to its movies page.

Fandango used to have a large lead in screen count, but since MovieTickets.com last year took over ticketing operations from Moviefone, its lead is now relatively small in the two-player market.

“We’ve continued to have business dealings with Yahoo! through (MovieTickets.com partial owner) Hollywood Media, and when the Fandango agreement was expiring, we knew we had a competitive screen count and a strong case to make,” said MovieTickets.com co-CEO Mitch Rubenstein.

Pact covers the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

With the Yahoo! deal, MovieTickets.com now services all the major portals and search engines, including MSN, AOL and Google.

Fandango, however, is allied with the Web’s biggest movie site, IMDb.com, recently signed a mobile deal with Sprint and more aggressively markets its own Web site.

“Fandango has seen unprecedented growth in traffic and ticket sales this year, and as a result of that growth, we have been re-evaluating our distribution relationships,” said Fandango CEO Art Levitt. “Some relationships make sense and some do not.”