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Sony Pictures Buys Video-Sharing Site

The group is among numerous sites for creating, watching, and sharing video, a form of social networking that's growing quickly on the Web.
Sony Pictures Entertainment said Wednesday it has acquired online video site Grouper for $65 million.

Under the deal, Sony Pictures, owned by Sony Corp., would retain Grouper's current management. The privately held Sausalito, Calif.-based, company is among numerous sites for creating, watching and sharing video, a form of social networking that's growing quickly on the Web.

The acquisition opens up a new online channel for distributing Sony Pictures content, the company said. In addition, the site provides a connection to people who are using Sony mobile devices, PCs, digital cameras and other hardware.

"Many people in the Grouper community use Sony cameras to create videos and Sony VAIO computers and mobile devices to store and view them," Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "It makes sense to complete the circle by having Grouper be a part of Sony Pictures Entertainment."

No immediate changes are planned for the site, Lynton said. However, there is "a potential for development of ad-supported and premium content businesses."

"Grouper gives us a strong platform for growth," he said.

Grouper in May was ranked No. 8 among video viewing sites with a market share of less than 1 percent, according to market researcher Hitwise.

The leader is YouTube, which had 12.8 million unique visitors in July, and was the fastest growing site among the top 25 Web brands from January to June, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

YouTube said this week that it has launched branded content channels for companies to advertise products and services on the site. Warner Bros. Records, a unit of Warner Music Group Corp., is the first to use the new advertising vehicle.

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