MOSCOW Oct 22 (Reuters) - Russian internet TV portal Tvigle aims to raise more than $10 million and seek private equity investment so it can grow its business as a legal alternative to pirated content.
Russia became Europe's largest internet market by audience in 2011 thanks to improved access to the web and has seen explosive growth of online businesses. However, video distribution has lagged due to competition from websites that have free, illegally downloaded content.
The company's founder and chief executive Egor Yakovlev said on Tuesday that Tvigle plans to attract private equity investment next year and is currently talking to potential backers which could include new as well as existing investors.
Tvigle's revenues come from advertising but it is also developing a pay-per-view model, expected to gather ground following the tightening of anti-piracy legislation last summer.
Tvigle, an online streaming service similar to U.S. firms Hulu and Netflix, raised initial funding in its early stages in 2007 from Allianz-Rosno Asset Management, part of German insurance group Allianz, and a further round in 2011 from PromSvyazCapital, the investment arm of bankers Dmitry and Alexey Ananiev.
The company has said that luring people away from internet piracy is a top priority and key business opportunity for it.
Around a quarter of the company is owned by Allianz and a third by Media3 - a holding structure of PromSvyazCapital.
Founder Yakovlev owns about a quarter, with the rest distributed among the company's management.
According to East-West Digital News, Russia's digital content market is worth around $1.4 billion, of which 97 percent is games. Video accounts for just 2 percent due to the high level of piracy, but its share is expected to grow along with the legalisation of video content.