AtomFilms.com to Log On With Diginet/VOD Service

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Former Century Communications Corp. CEO Andrew Tow is heading up a new digital network and video-on-demand service based on content from the popular Internet streaming-movie site AtomFilms.com.

AtomTelevision, the new digital service set to debut in first-quarter 2003, will benefit from a free preview of sorts, with content to bow as part of Comcast Corp.'s planned VOD launch this fall, Tow said.

AtomTelevision, a joint venture between AtomFilms and Tow's Global Media Holdings, will feature an exclusive, high-quality library of thousands of short film and animation titles that's highlighted by major award winners, as well as star-powered content.

The films are currently available on AtomFilms' Web site, which attracts a loyal, advertising-friendly base of over 18 million unique users every month, and has registered over 60 million users since its launch in 1998.

'A TOP DRAW'

The network, which will proffer 20- to 30-minute film shorts, is perfectly suited for the attention-wandering young viewers, he added.

"The TV industry has to face facts that long-form programming is no longer the best way to go, and short-form bursts are now the trend," Tow said. "If we can convert only a tiny portion of the Web site audience to watch it in a more technologically robust format on cable, we should have a TV channel that can be a top draw for operators both in a digital or analog environment."

But AtomFilms isn't the only digital service with a short-film focus that's vying for operator attention. Brief Original Broadcasts — co-founded by former High Speed Access Corp CEO Dan O'Brien — plans to launch Jan. 1, offering independently produced short-form programming targeting the 18-to-34 demographic. The service's short films will cover most genres, including comedy, drama and animation.

Tow said he's currently talking to both operators and advertisers about the young-male-targeted service, which would offer blocks of movies on a 24-hour basis, programmed according to theme. Tow, who served as chairman of Century's cable unit in the mid-1990s, projects the network will be in 3 million to 5 million households at launch.

He would not disclose rate-card fees for AtomTelevision, but said the carriage agreement would be "operator-friendly."

VOD-ABLE

The channel's content can easily be converted into a VOD format, which operators can use to generate incremental revenue, he said. AtomTelevision's debut on Comcast's Philadelphia-area VOD launch later this fall will come in five, one-hour themed blocks, including Academy Award-nominated short films and animated titles; celebrity-driven short movies featuring Ewan McGregor, Matthew McConaughey, Neve Campbell and Billy Bob Thornton; and Atom classics. Comcast will offer the service to customers free of charge.

"We [Comcast] are excited to work with AtomTelevision's strong executive leadership team to offer our digital cable customers in Philadelphia the opportunity to enjoy AtomFilms' diverse library of short-form entertainment at no additional charge," said Comcast executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service Dave Watson in a statement.

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