Exclusive: Viacom Close To Buying iFilm

ifilm1.gif[by Rafat Ali] Viacom, the Tom Freston part of it, is buying iFilm, the online movie-related and broadband content website, paidContent.org has learned. The deal, which is still being finalized, will be announced in the next week or so…the final sale price will stack up around $50 million.

iFilm, based in LA, has a very complex ownership structure, and from what I know, has about 300 different preferred shareholders, so the deal dynamics are bound to be a nightmare. Among the other companies that looked at it included CNET (and others), but surprise surprise, not News Corp.

Viacom is likely to keep iFilm as a separate brand entity, much on the lines of what Fox is doing with its acquisitions…iFilm has a very loyal following, lot of it build on word-of-mouth and viral marketing, and Viacom sees benefits of using some of that expertise and audience to enhance its stable of sites including MTV.com, VH1.com and others…

This will be the second small-to-medium size acquisition for the Viacom group, following its $160 million buyout of Neopets in April. Keep in mind that Viacom is being split into two later this year, and the two acquisition are on the MTV-Tom Freston side…the other spinoff, CBS Corp, is still hungrily looking at various deals.

If you need to brush up a bit on iFilm’s background, here’s recent smallish profile in Wired magazine. There’s a lot of history to the company back from the boom days, when it was supposed to be merged with the infamous Pop.com, but the merger was called off in 2000..this story from 200 will also give you some older history on the site.


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