SnagFilms raises $10 million for free films

Ronny Kerr · January 18, 2011 · Short URL:

Site started with ad-supported documentaries, seeks to expand with foreign and independent films

SnagFilmsSnagFilms, an advertising-supported website that lets users watch documentaries for free, announced Tuesday that it has raised $10 million in a new round of capital capital from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Comcast Interactive Capital (CIC) with participation from existing investors Ted Leonsis and Steve Case, former chairman and CEO of AOL.

Though SnagFilms has been around since 2008, this marks the company’s first funding round along with its decision to begin featuring fiction films alongside the site’s non-fiction films.

“As a profitable company with substantial private investors, SnagFilms didn’t need to raise outside capital,” said company founder Ted Leonsis. “However, we saw overwhelming strategic value in involving NEA, a pioneer and leading venture capital firm, and CIC, the investment arm of Comcast. SnagFilms is very well-financed and uniquely positioned now to bring the full array of independent films – fiction and non-fiction, U.S. and foreign – to global audiences on all platforms and devices.”

The site’s library now hosts 2,000 documentaries of every variety, from Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me to National Geographic’s Inside the US Secret Service to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. With this newest funding, the SnagFilms library will continue to balloon with new content, including fictional narrative and foreign-produced independent films. Additionally, Bingham Ray, former president of United Artists, October Films and Kimmel Entertainment, will be joining the company to help select and distribute these new films.

SnagFilms will also use the new funding to expand indieWIRE unit, a site that features reviews and analysis of independent film.

Online video is such a massive sector for the Web that there seems to be plenty of room for innovation and new leaders in even the most obvious of niches. It seems that SnagFilms has already carved a snug space for itself as a free distributor of documentaries and now seeks to expand simply by adding movies that its current audience will find attractive: independent and foreign films. It’s a smart move, and, for me, indicates that this is one startup worth watching closely over the next few years, as online video will only grow more and more.

The company could not be reached for comment.

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