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BroadbandTV finds a partner

BroadbandTV, a Vancouver-based online video company that has quickly become a top aggregator of content on YouTube, announced Wednesday it had struck a $36-million strategic partnership with RTL Group, a leading European entertainment network whose assets include dozens of TV stations and FremantleMedia, a producer of the American Idol and X-Factor TV franchises.

"RTL Group brings a significant enhancement in our access to resources, content expertise and libraries, advertising sales and operational infrastructure," said Shahrzad Rafati, the CEO of BroadbandTV, in an interview. "We've defined an ambitious plan covering all these areas that we're excited to begin immediately." The company will open U.S. offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, along with a European office.

Broadband says it has 7,800 independent channel partners in its YouTube network, for whom it handles advertising sales and other logistics. The deal may result in some of those content creators finding a wider audience on RTL's traditional TV networks. Ms. Rafati also suggested Fremantle's expertise in product placement could be put to use in BroadbandTV's content partners.

BroadbandTV currently claims about 800 million views per month on YouTube. Fremantle's 135 channels claim about 400 million monthly views.

Under the deal, RTL, which claims 53 television stations and 28 radio stations across 10 countries, will hold 51 per cent of BroadbandTV. RTL is majority owned by Bertelsmann SE & Co.

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