JibJab Media Inc.'s latest animated short spoof, "Big Box Mart," drew millions of viewers in its first week, but not on Yahoo Inc.'s media site, the former home of the Santa Monica company's 2004 spoof of the presidential elections.
"Big Box Mart," an irreverent spoof of outsourcing and consumer culture, was released exclusively on Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Network, signaling a change of allegiance for the Santa Monica-based Spiridellis brothers, creators of the cartoons. It also showed that media Web sites have become just as fractious and competitive as their television network counterparts.
There was no bidding war to prompt the Web move, said JibJab co-founder Gregg Spiridellis. "There are no real rules to how these sorts of distribution deals are structured," he said. "There were just subtle differences with how they wanted to integrate their brands with our site, and how much control we had over the look and feel of our site."
The pair's next four short cartoons will be distributed through MSN, according to the deal. Financial terms were not disclosed, but MSN will be selling video ads on JibJab's Web site, bringing in more revenue for JibJab.
The day it was released, JibJab's servers became overwhelmed by viewers trying to watch "Big Box Mart." Those viewing it on MSN had no trouble; MSN's network has far greater capacity. (Despite the exclusivity of the distribution arrangement, JibJab's clips are always posted on its own site.) JibJab has eight employees, but just two months ago, there were only four. "We are a tiny, tiny company," Spiridellis said. "We work on one production at a time."
Internet media plays seem to be getting cheaper. In the latest big-media-swallows-little-fish episode, Viacom Inc. unit MTV Networks spent $49 million for IFilm Inc., a Hollywood-based Internet movie company.
IFilm claims 10 million monthly users who get their fix of short films, clips, music videos and sports footage streaming on the IFilm Web site. IFilm offers amateur filmmakers an outlet for their material and channels studio productions as well.
Viacom executives are touting the deal as a way to bring IFilm's users into the MTV fold. Integration with other Viacom properties MTV2, Comedy Central, SpikeTV and VH1 aren't far behind, according to Jason Hirschhorn, MTV's senior vice president of digital music and media.
IFilm will operate independently, according to an IFilm spokeswoman, keeping its Hollywood offices and Chief Executive Blair Harrison. In June, Viacom spent $160 million to purchase Glendale-based Neopets.com Inc.
Agoura Hills-based Jambo Inc., an Internet search marketing company started by the founders of NetZero Inc., just raised $5 million in venture funding from Kline Hawkes & Co., Westlake Venture Partners and Gary Leff and Associates. Former NetZero executives Ronald Burr, Stacy Haitsuka and Chris Black serve as chief strategic officer, chief information officer and chief operating officer, respectively.
Spun off from JamboTech Inc., a broadband phone company, Jambo focuses on generating phone leads from Internet clicks. It claims its proprietary software filters promising leads from the general Internet search population, and focuses on small, local businesses that may not have a Web presence. Jambo gathers information from these brick-and-mortar stores and places it on its network, enabling vendors to track phone calls generated from the Web. Jambo means "hello" in Swahili.
*Staff Reporter Hilary Potkewitz can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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