Los Angeles-based ZEFR has built a huge business by helping content owners and brands to track and monetize video content on YouTube. But years after launching as a destination site for movie fans to discover and watch their favorite scenes online, the company is selling off its legacy Movieclips business to Comcast’s Fandango unit, according to sources.
Representatives from ZEFR and Fandango could not be reached for comment, but we’ve heard the deal is close to being completed and is likely to be announced in the next week.
Movieclips, which was launched in 2009, licenses memorable movie scenes from various studios, puts them up on YouTube and monetizes them with ads on the site. Over time, the company developed content identification technology to recognize clips that were owned by partners but had been uploaded by regular YouTube users.
Eventually, it rebranded as ZEFR to offer that technology to other partners to allow them to track, claim, and monetize user-submitted videos for content they owned.
While the technology was first used by the big movie studios for rights management, ZEFR’s tools were also found to be useful by a wide variety of content owners that include music labels, news and sports networks, and brands.
Its social marketing offering, in particular, now allows brands to analyze videos that are uploaded by fans and critics of various brands and products. It also provides a dashboard that agencies and brands can use to engage with people who are talking about their offerings on YouTube.
All of that is working incredibly well, so it’s no surprise that the company is ready to focus on that larger opportunity. With 100 percent year-over-year growth over the past three years, putting all its efforts behind its rights management and social marketing tools makes a lot of sense.
That said, Movieclips is still a pretty valuable property — it just needed to find the right home.
In that respect, Fandango seems like a perfect fit. Acquired by Comcast in 2007, the property has focused on becoming the online destination for movie fans to search for and discover new movies, and to sell them tickets. Over the years it’s acquired other properties like Movies.com and Quantum Loyalty Solutions to bolster its content and product offerings.
With the Movieclips assets, Fandango will be well-positioned to monetize the clips the company has licensed, and also should be able to funnel those fans back to its own sites. That could not only provide more viewers to its content for older movies, but drive ticket sales up for new and upcoming films as well.
For ZEFR, the sale will also add some cash to its growing war chest. While we haven’t been able to confirm the final price, whatever money ZEFR makes from the sale will be on top of the $60 million it’s raised since being founded in 2009. That includes $30 million in Series D funding led by Institutional Venture Partners that the company announce in February.