Viacom, Microsoft ink content, ad deal

Media conglomerate to lend more programming to publisher's Xbox Live Marketplace and MSN platforms in $500 million agreement.

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Viacom content already plays a prominent role in Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace on the Xbox 360, with Comedy Central hits such as South Park and Paramount Pictures films such as Braveheart and Team America: World Police available through the service. However, the media conglomerate today announced that it would be expanding its partnership with Microsoft in a five-year deal that includes content sharing and advertisement spending across the two companies' various brands. Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Viacom projected the value of the collaboration at $500 million.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will license a "broad selection" of shows and films from Viacom's cable television and film studios, including MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and Paramount Pictures for use on Xbox Live and MSN. The deal also provides for Viacom to be a preferred publisher partner for casual game development and distribution through MSN and Windows platforms. Viacom currently already has its hands in the gaming industry, having acquired Rock Band creator Harmonix through its subsidiary MTV Games last year.

The deal also encompasses a number of advertisement-related ventures. Microsoft's Atlas ad-serving division will be the exclusive provider of remnant, or previously unsold, advertising inventory on Viacom's Web sites in the US, and the Redmond giant will also purchase a substantial amount of premium advertising on Viacom's broadcast and online networks over the course of the five-year deal. The two will also collaborate on promotions and sponsorships for awards shows on MTV and BET.

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