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SnagFilms Takes $10M Investment to Expand Indie Distribution

Venture firms NEA and Comcast Interactive invest to expand digital distribution for indie film; Bingham Ray joins as consultant

SnagFilms, the digital platform for documentary films that also owns IndieWire, has received $10 million in funding from two institutional investors with an eye to expanding into feature independent film distribution, the company told TheWrap.

The two investors are the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Comcast Interactive Capital, with the latter particularly well placed to propel the digital service into new platforms and distribution networks.

The move demonstrates that the company has chosen to push its growth through SnagFilms — which last year added video on demand to its ad-supported service — rather than through the news service IndieWire, though some of the investment will also go to the news service.

It also comes on the eve of the most important independent film event of the year, the Sundance Film Festival.

The new capital infusion from strategic investors offers the prospect of new distribution pipelines for independent filmmakers who have been struggling in recent years to find a business model that supports arthouse work.  

“We didn’t need money to keep operating, but we thought now was a perfect time to grow more aggressively,” said SnagFilms CEO Rick Allen, in an interview with TheWrap.

Allen said the company now turns a modest profit, but did not disclose revenues or the company’s valuation.

Bingham Ray, the veteran indie film producer, will be joining SnagFilms as a consultant as it seeks to expand into indpendent feature films.

SnagFilms currently distributes over 2,000 documentary films from the web, where the service is embedded on thousands of pages. The films are ad-supported and can be watched for free. Last year the company added video on demand to channels on Comcast and Verizon Fios, as well as Apple’s iTunes store.

Comcast will be enhancing its video-on-demand service, and SnagFilms anticipates increasing its presence there, Allen said.

The company was cofounded by Ted Leonsis and Steve Case, with Allen.

NEA Managing Partner Peter Barris and Comcast Interactive’s David Horowitz will both join the board of directors.

Said Horowitz: ‘We are excited about the new opportunities that SnagFilms creates, especially for independent filmmakers who historically could not get distribution.”

He added: “This investment reflects our view that consumers are demanding a diverse selection of high-quality content that can be watched on any platform or device.”

“I think we’ve got the right investment partners, strategic partners, and the right and  important amount of capital to expand in this way,” said Allen.