MCI Moves Aggressively Into IP Media Delivery

MCI unveiled plans Tuesday to acquire Interactive Content Factory (ICF), a leading provider of IP-based media and entertainment services.

April 19, 2005

2 Min Read
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Still targeted by would-be acquirers, MCI showed Tuesday that it, too, can make acquisitions. It unveiled plans to obtain Interactive Content Factory (ICF), a leading provider of IP-based media and entertainment services.

Previously, MCI agreed to be acquired by Verizon Communications, which announced Monday that it has acquired rights from NBC Universal Cable to distribute several programming outlets for delivery over Verizon's FiOS TV service. An ICF acquisition by MCI would fit neatly into Verizon's drive to accumulate programming for its FiOS service, which is expected to go live later this year.

Sources at both MCI and ICF were asked whether Verizon had approved the ICF acquisition. Both declined to state whether Verizon had been involved in the deal and financial terms of the agreement were not released.

"We're not disclosing the dollar figure at this time," said Natasha Haubold, an MCI spokesperson. "What's important is that this allows MCI to be a very competitive player in (delivering) IP media content."

ICF is a unit within TWI's interactive division, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IMG Worldwide. TWI bills itself as the world's largest independent producer, packager, and distributor of sports programming. John Watson, TWI's vice president of business development, noted that ICF is expert in ingesting and managing sports and lifestyle content, then creating, editing, and producing the content for distribution. He observed that content can now be transmitted over the Internet.With the announcement of the ICF acquisition, MCI also unveiled its new Digital Media Technologies group, which is "dedicated to developing and distributing end-to-end, digital media solutions for content creators, producers, and distribution outlets for media, entertainment, and gaming organizations."

In addition to using ICF's media platform to capture and distribute content, MCI said it will also offer software and editing tools so customers can access, edit, and distribute content to Web-enabled devices. "The acquisition of ICF strengthens MCI's focus on serving our media and entertainment customers by allowing us to provide digital media solutions faster and more efficiently," said Jonathan Crane, MCI's executive vice president of strategy and corporate development, in a statement.

MCI said the ICF Media Platform is capable of supporting customers ranging from small production companies up to and including large broadcast and film organizations.

As for Verizon, it has been signing up programming for delivery over its fiber optic FiOS network in preparation for competing head-to-head with cable companies. Announced Monday, its deal with NBC Universal Cable covers several programming outlets including Bravo, CNBC, USA Channel, and the Spanish-language Telemundo.

In another development, the Financial Times said MCI is still negotiating with Qwest Communications over the latter's bid to acquire MCI. Qwest has presented a higher bid for MCI, which so far has chosen Verizon because it believes the financially healthy Verizon would be a better fit than Qwest. Unlike the other former Baby Bells, which are busily rolling out fiber optic networks, Qwest has eschewed the high-speed technology.0

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