December 16, 2004 10:12 AM PST

JibJab inks Yahoo deal

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JibJab, an online animation shop that produced a wildly popular election spoof, has signed a distribution deal with Yahoo.

Yahoo will get exclusive rights to distribute JibJab's next two animated videos, one having a holiday theme and the other being a political spoof, Yahoo said Thursday.

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The agreement signals Yahoo's heightened focus on becoming a source for online-entertainment programming. The idea is to use HBO's strategy as a model, so that Yahoo licenses programming from outside companies and distributes the content exclusively on its Web site. The company last month hired former ABC producer Lloyd Braun to run its entertainment division.

The strategy is not surprising, given Yahoo CEO Terry Semel's background leading Warner Bros.'s movie studio. Soon after taking the helm, Semel tapped former Warner Bros. executive Jim Moloshok to strike deals with Hollywood, such as Yahoo's agreement to host the official Web site of the hit reality show "The Apprentice."

JibJab's founders, Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, said in an interview with CNBC Thursday morning that consumers could view the movies at the JibJab site or go to Yahoo to watch them.

Viewers will not be charged, but the Spiridellis brothers hope to make some money through additional ad revenue. Financial terms of the deal with Yahoo were not released.

JibJab shot to fame with its first Flash animation, set to the tune of "This Land is Your Land," which prompted a copyright battle with the estate of Woodie Guthrie.


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