GazProm Media Completes $15 Million Acquisition RuTube, The YouTube Of Russia

Russia’s media conglomerate, Gazprom Media, is now the proud owner of video-sharing site RuTube. This deal has been in the works since at least June, 2007 and is believed to be in the $15 million range.

RuTube is the YouTube of Russia. Or, rather, it wants to be. According to comScore, YouTube is actually the YouTube of Russia. In September, RuTube attracted 2 million unique visitors in Russia, versus 2.9 million Russian uniques for YouTube. RuTibe is seeing some nice growth, though. It has doubled its audience since June. (All caveats about comScore estimates apply here. Their numbers for Russia should be looked at as indicative of the trend rather than as absolutes).

TechCrunch reader Andrei Taraschuk, the founder of UMapper, translated the following Russian press story about the deal into English for us:

Gazprom-Media completed the acquisition of video service RuTube. The news came today from TNT – Teleset (TNT-Telenetwork) is the largest television network in Russia. According to sources inside TNT, RuTube is going to be headed by TNT’s Michael Ilitchev.

Ilitchev told that RuTube will continue its focus on three main areas: video service, online video hosting, media platform. Down the road RuTube might expand its services to brands like RuTube movie, RuTube sport, RuTube music, RuTube news, RuTube humor.

Ilitched pointed out that RuTube founders will continue their involvement in RuTube from the technical side. The rest of RuTube team will continue as subcontractors to support, develop and host the project.

The exact acquisition amount is yet unknown.

It took Gazprom-Media over a year to purchase RuTube. Gazprom-Media announced their acquisition plans back in June 2007, the legal (purchase) process was started in March of 2008. Russian newspaper Kommersant (Коммерсант) wrote that Gazprom-media valued RuTube at 15million USD and had plans to become primary shareholder. It was expected that after the acquisition, RuTube will start hosting videos from TNT and other media properties of Gazprom-Media.

RuTube is the biggest video hosting service in RUNET (Russian internet). According to Gallup, in September 2008, RuTube had over 4mln visitors. Over 5,8 had watched videos.