Once Considered a YouTube Rival, MTV Does Away With IFilm.com

Merges Video Site With Spike to Create New Male-Targeted Destination

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In the pre-YouTube era -- you know, that ancient, halcyon time of 2005 and before -- one had to be very resourceful to find pirated clips of the previous night's awards show highlights or "Daily Show" monologues. But if there was any single destination for online video back then, one would be hard-pressed to disagree it was iFilm.com.
Spike's website is merging with iFilm.com to create a new male-targeted venture.
Spike's website is merging with iFilm.com to create a new male-targeted venture.

Viacom acquired the site -- once a resource for everything from movie trailers to footage of Anna Nicole Smith's latest drunken ramblings -- in October 2005 in hopes of making it a user-generated YouTube rival.

Entertainment group
Instead, Viacom bundled iFilm.com under MTV Networks' newly formed entertainment group last December, which also includes Spike TV and Comedy Central as well as gaming properties such as Xfire and GameTrailers.com. IFilm's core audience of young males seemed to perfectly align it with the target demo for Viacom's Spike network, prompting Erik Flannigan, MTVN's exec VP-digital media, to suggest the two brands merge under one umbrella.

The result: SpikeTV.com and iFilm.com will be no more by first-quarter 2008, forever rebranded together under the name Spike.com.

"We're going to concentrate on it being its own men's destination," said Jon Slussser, senior VP of newly formed Spike Digital Media Entertainment Group, which is being launched in conjunction with the new site. "It needs to be an entity to exist where guys want to go to the site regardless of the channel."

Although the content will be primarily comprised of Spike programming, Mr. Slusser said there will also be clips from Comedy Central, GameTrailers and MTV where it makes sense. "It's not supposed to be some general, universal platform for all the MTV brands. Kind of like MTV2 is to MTV -- it's his own entity," he said.

Soft launch
Currently, SpikeTV.com and iFilm.com have been coexisting quietly in pseudo-beta form since Aug. 8. The content merger was designed to have a soft launch in the fall, with minimal on-air promotion for now and a larger push to follow by year's end, Mr. Slusser said. As a result, the potential to sell ads across the properties has already begun. Coors was a sponsor earlier in the year of a "Hottest Bartender" contest, and will return in an even bigger way for the new Spike.com next year.

Having a condensed sales team in the new Spike Digital Media Entertainment group is what Mr. Slusser believes will help the new team make the site an easier sell. Not to mention increased scale -- iFilm.com had an average audience of 2.3 million users in August 2007, according to ComScore, down from 2.9 million in the same period in 2006.

"We're able to present a much larger audience to the marketplace," Mr. Slusser said. "There are a lot of cool sites around who are all doing neat things on their own, but I feel like we can really harness the power of what we can provide advertisers."
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