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MySpace seeks film-maker deals in bid to stem losses to Facebook

MySpace seeks film-maker deals in bid to stem losses to Facebook

Los Angeles: News Corp.’s MySpace, the world’s second largest social networking website, is trying to expand partnerships with film-makers to gain an edge against faster growing Facebook Inc.

MySpace wants advertisers to buy sponsorships to cover the cost of featuring artists’ projects on the site, chief executive officer Chris DeWolfe said in an interview at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The company may also offer movies when technology makes it easier to see downloads on TV screens.

MySpace lost the title of the largest social networking site on the Internet to Facebook last year. As part of its focus on popular culture and to regain ground lost to Facebook, Beverly Hills, California-based MySpace began selling music in September. A company-commissioned study by Nielsen Co., which compiles TV ratings, found many MySpace users seek movie information at the site, DeWolfe said.

“These are innovations that MySpace is making to try to slow the audience shift," said Laura Martin, an analyst at Soleil Securities in Pasadena, California, who has a “hold" rating on New York-based News Corp. “It’s unclear how successful they’ll be. It’s also unclear that even if they are successful, Facebook won’t follow over time."

Unique visitors to Palo Alto, California-based Facebook, more than doubled to 221.8 million in December 2008 from 97.8 million a year earlier. MySpace, which leads in US visitors, ended the year with 124.9 million, up 17%, according to research firm ComScore Inc.

MySpace started its movie page in 2006 with a contest inviting Beastie Boys fans to remix the band’s music videos and post them on the site, spokeswoman Tracy Akselrud said. MySpace brought the winners to Sundance for a party featuring the band.

Facebook has stressed other video features, including one that lets users watch clips on sites such as CNN.com, while communicating through a pop-up window with Facebook friends, spokesman Larry Yu said in an interview.

A meeting between DeWolfe and actor Ashton Kutcher at the TechCrunch50 conference in September resulted in an accord to show the actor’s animated Blah Girls videos on MySpace.

DeWolfe was looking for similar opportunities at this year’s Sundance festival, which ended on Sunday.

He declined to comment on specific discussions. Movies that interest him include the documentary We Live in Public, DeWolfe said.

The film presents an around-the-clock look at the daily lives of Jupiter Communications Inc. co-founder Josh Harris and his girlfriend, Tanya. They set out to broadcast every aspect of their activities for six months.

“That’s an example of the kind of person, company, film we may work with if they don’t get distribution," DeWolfe said. “Or if they do, we may do something with the distributor."

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