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Heavy.com Plans Twofold Expansion

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NEW YORK Online video site Heavy.com is moving into new verticals and markets with a major new round of financing.

The New York-based site said it closed a $20 million financing round from Polaris Venture Partners, which invested $10 million in Heavy a year ago.

The capital infusion will be used to expand Heavy, a video site geared toward 18-34-year-old males, into new brands, including a sports site and teen destination, said Simon Assaad, co-CEO. The sports site will launch the next two months, while the teen extension will debut later this year.

He said the sites would follow the Heavy model of mixing original broadband Web programming and "curated" user-generated content.

"There's a pretty interesting opportunity to create a teen brand around video and do it well," he said.

Heavy.com claims as many as 13 million visitors per month, although Nielsen NetRatings pegs its November 2006 audience at 1.9 million.

Heavy is also planning its first forays abroad with the launch of a site for Canada, followed by versions for the United Kingdom and Australia. The latter two will act as hubs for expanding into Europe and Asia, Assaad said.

Mike Hirshland, a partner at Polaris, said the venture firm is impressed by Heavy's ability to crack the code of not only creating a popular online video destination, but also constructing an ad model.

"I think Heavy is one of the only groups that really understands the audience-building side and the revenue-generating side," he said.

Heavy's advertisers include Axe, Coke and Sony. It has launched several branded entertainment campaigns, such as one for Burger King that used consumer-generated videos around masks of the Burger King mascot. Asasad said the site planned more branded entertainment campaigns in 2007 that go well beyond the pre-roll video spots and adjacency placements on most sites.

"Our sense is there is a very real opportunity, broadly speaking, for meaningful media companies to be built over the next five to seven years that really are all about the new platforms," Hirshland said.