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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sony buys Grouper ... The Cruise/Paramount split ... and More

- Sony is buying Grouper for $65 million. The video sharing site, based in Sausalito, CA, had raised $5.5 million in venture capital. Sounds like a good deal for the founders and investors. Coverage from The LA Times, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal.

If managed well, this acquisition could help promote Sony movies, games, and other content...and potentially also serve as a "scouting system" for talent. Grouper could also generate decent ad revenue for Sony; it now has 8 million visitors a month, according to its founder. (Third-party stats say the number of visitors is closer to 500,000.)

Some interesting tidbits from the coverage....

The Journal's Sarah McBride writes, "The companies are exploring making Sony shows and movies available for mash-ups, where users could lift parts of Sony content and mix it with their own material to produce a new video."

From Matt Richtel's piece in the NY Times:

    “My sense is that user-based content is a form of content that’s going to last,” [Sony Pictures chairman Michael] Lynton said. “It’s a bet, no question, but it’s a bet worth making.”

    Despite its emphasis on letting users share homemade videos, many of the most popular clips on Grouper are slick short productions, including music videos and commercials.

But Chris Gaither and Dawn Chmielewski of the LA Times observe that unlike rivals Viacom and News Corp., "Sony doesn't have a big advertising sales force to sell online commercials. Its main goals are to create and distribute movies and TV shows."

- Everyone, including the NY Times has coverage of the split between Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures. The big question raised by the story is whether this split is an indication that the Hollywood star system (which emerged in the 1950s) is in decline. The story quotes a senior studio executive:

    “These companies [the studios] are sick of being pushed around. This is indicative of a huge paradigm shift in the industry in terms of what constitutes a star and how much power a star has.”

- A few more advance details about Amazon's video download service, which may be called Unbox. Looks like it will offer content to rent or to own.

- Cool contest from Stephen Colbert for video remixers...


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