Television

Sony Pictures Entertainment acquires Grouper for $ 65 million

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MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has acquired Grouper, the fast-growing user-generated video site on the internet. The announcement was made by SPE chairman and CEO Michael Lynton.

Grouper.com, which is the second largest independent video community, enables its members to watch, share and create video on the Web. Under the terms of the $65 million deal, the Sausalito-based company will retain its current management, working closely with a team at Sony Pictures.

"Consumers are spending more and more time on sites like Grouper, and as one of the world's largest creators of entertainment, we want to be where the audiences are. This acquisition demonstrates the breadth of involvement of Sony Corporation in the field of digital online entertainment. Many people in the Grouper community use Sony cameras to create videos and Sony VAIO computers and mobile devices to store and view them. It makes sense to complete the circle by having Grouper be a part of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which itself creates so much content for people around the world," said Lynton.

"When you pair Grouper's innovative video sharing platform on the web and the desktop with Sony's connected devices and copyrighted media you create a dynamic and exciting environment for consumers. We have an opportunity, as part of the Sony family, to bring together user-generated and copyrighted content across platforms and devices for the first time," said Grouper CEO and co-founder Josh Felser.

Grouper's primary mission is to give its users the flexibility to take their videos with them across site and platform. Grouper users can browse videos and easily post them to a wide variety of third-party Web sites, such as their personal pages on MySpace, Blogger and Friendster. Grouper's portability is anchored by its robust peer-to-peer video sharing network, which facilitates downloads of high quality uncut original video shared by its members. Its users can download from Grouper.com to connected mobile devices like the PSP and iPod. Grouper also provides members with easy-to-use video editing tools so that videos can be quickly uploaded from cameras, camcorders and webcams.

Lynton said he is impressed by the experience of Grouper's management team. "Grouper is not only one of the leaders in a new wave of content development, it is also a major innovator in empowering users to participate in a dynamic on-line community," he said.

Lynton said the acquisition of Grouper is a strategic initiative in the field of digital entertainment and consistent with Sony Pictures' vision of making entertainment accessible to consumers whenever, wherever and however they want. No immediate changes are planned for the site. Over time, Lynton said there is potential for development of ad-supported and premium content businesses. "Grouper gives us a strong platform for growth," Lynton said.

In addition, he noted that there is value in connecting an enormous amount of imaginative content with a studio that is always interested in finding new ideas and talent for the movies, television shows and games it creates for audiences around the world. "A site like Grouper allows people to showcase their creativity to a vast audience. It's like a virtual, global audition, and a great source of entertainment," he added.

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