Vivendi gives Shout! out to distrib'n deal

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Vivendi Visual Entertainment has signed a multiyear DVD distribution deal with Shout! Factory, the quirky independent supplier founded by alumni of the celebrated Rhino Records label.

The deal calls for VVE to distribute all of Shout! Factory's nonmusic video products, including documentaries, feature films and TV-DVD sets. These products were distributed by Sony Wonder, Sony BMG Music Entertainment's children's audio and home entertainment arm that is now in the process of being shuttered.

Shout! Factory is a four-year-old label known for its wealth of pop culture offerings, including the documentary "Timothy Leary's Last Trip" and such TV shows as "That Girl," "Freaks and Geeks," "Inside the Actors Studio" and "The Dick Cavett Show."

Shout! Factory is "one of the industry's top purveyors of pop culture films and television product," VVE GM Tom O'Malley said. "Whether they are uncovering old favorites or producing new ones, their product is distinguished by its creativity and appeal that spans generations. This is great stuff."

Garson Foos, who heads Shout! Factory, said he anticipates VVE will "give us the attention and effort that we need to continue to build our business. Their experience in the rental business will help us progress in that area," he noted. "We have long-standing relationships with many of the Universal executives, and we have a lot of confidence in them."

Indie DVD suppliers have been on a mad scramble for content of late as they hope to capitalize on the widening of distribution channels, both physical (with Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD) and electronic (Movielink, CinemaNow and other movie-downloading services).

VVE was launched in September 2004 by Universal Music Group Distribution. Unlike most indies, the company has grown not by buying other companies but by securing distribution deals with such suppliers as Xenon Pictures, Code Black and Palm Pictures. The company is now the market leader in Latin and urban programming, and O'Malley said more deals will be coming.

VVE's goal is to be a confederation of distributed labels, but it will be "selective, thoughtful and disciplined" in lining up partnerships, O'Malley said. "We don't buy labels, we distribute them, and this allows each of us to do what we do best. They are great purveyors of product; our expertise is in sales, distribution and marketing of DVD product."
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