MTVN Merges IFILM and

Viacom’s MTV Networks is planning to merge its IFILM property with Spike TV’s online presence, putting its guy-centric cable station to work in the service of MTVN’s online traffic building and digital video ad sales efforts.

The integrated IFILM/ group will report to MTVN Entertainment Group’s SVP of Digital Media, Erik Flannigan. IFILM’s longtime top dog, Blair Harrison, will relinquish his leadership of the site and “is currently in conversation with MTV Networks to explore what he might do next inside or outside the company,” according to a Viacom statement.

A new, dually branded Web site will be launched at an unspecified date. It will carry clips from on-air programs but no full-length shows, according to a spokesperson.

The move, coming eighteen months after MTVN acquired IFILM for $49 million, will leverage Spike TV’s on-air promotion and program assets to build online traffic and will increase the amount of saleable inventory attached to the Spike TV brand.

“The combined traffic of IFILM and will also allow us to leapfrog the reach of other video-based sites that target men so we can more effectively compete for online advertising dollars,” said Doug Herzog, President, MTVN Entertainment Group, in a statement.

The online video activities of Viacom and its broadcasting peers are even more frenzied than usual this month. Viacom’s move to combine the sites comes ten days after it sued YouTube for over $1 billion, claiming six counts of copyright infringement. And late last week, NBC Universal and News Corp. announced a partnership to launch a video platform to compete with YouTube. Reportedly, AOL, MSN, MySpace, Yahoo and other unnamed networks and film studios will be involved.

MTVN Entertainment Group was formed in December to house the Viacom unit’s male-skewing brands; Web properties under its umbrella include, AtomFilms, and Xfire.

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