Cinedigm Ups Quarterly Net Loss as Revenue Falls Due to COVID-19

Home entertainment/OTT video distributor Cinedigm Aug. 14 reported a first quarter (ended June 30) net loss of $19.9 million on revenue of more than $6 million. That compared to a net loss of $5.1 million and $9.8 million in revenue during the previous-year period.

Los Angeles-based Cinedigm attributed the increased loss to the expected decline in its Cinema Equipment business and the negative impact of COVID-19 on theatrical revenue. This was partially offset by growth in OTT / streaming revenue. Overall OTT/streaming revenue, including digital content licensing, increased 22% with sales billings up 30%. OTT AVOD Channel revenue increased 28% versus last year and 48% versus the prior 3-month fiscal period.

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“Due to COVID-19, advertisers ‘pressed pause’ industry-wide in late March through mid-May and we were impacted like everyone else,” CFO Gary Loffredo said in a statement. “Despite this, we generated strong streaming results in the quarter … and our ad-fill rates are now exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels with CPMs also back to 90% of pre-COVID-19 rates.”

Erick Opeka, president of digital networks, said the consumer shift towards on-demand video entertainment continues at a “dramatic and accelerating” pace.

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“We took advantage of this with the launch or signing of six new streaming channels during the quarter, which will be available on a number of key streaming platforms, including Roku, Xumo, Peacock and Plex, among many others,” Opeka said. “Our streaming device platform reach has now expanded to over 800 million global devices and will only continue to grow.”

Cinedigm Expands Distribution of ‘The Bob Ross Channel’ on Xumo Streaming Service

Cinedigm Aug. 10 announced that The Bob Ross Channel has launched on the Xumo streaming television service. The channel will be available as a free ad-supported linear channel. In addition, the complete catalog of Bob Ross’ television series will also be available on AVOD.

With the launch on Xumo, The Bob Ross Channel will now be directly available in 45 million households across the nation via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, Web and streaming devices. In addition to The Bob Ross Channel, Xumo carries six other channels from Cinedigm’s channel portfolio, including CONtv, Docurama, Dove Channel, Bambu, Combat Go and Comedy Dynamics.

“With this launch on Xumo, our hope is to further grow his audience by reaching those viewers who have ‘cut the cord’ and seek high-quality entertainment on the leading video streaming platforms,” Tony Huidor, Cinedigm GM of digital networks, said in a statement.

The Bob Ross Channel showcases memorable moments and paintings from the long-running public television series, featuring about 380 classic episodes. As part of Cinedigm’s agreement with Bob Ross Inc., the home entertainment distributor has produced and distributes special messages of support for public television on the channel, as well as spots highlighting official Ross painting products, and Ross certified instructors.

Ross died from lymphoma at the age of 52 on July 4, 1995, in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Cinedigm Partners With Chinese Theme Park Operator for Animation Streaming Service

Cinedigm Aug. 6 announced a partnership with Fantawild, a Chinese theme park operator and producer of children’s animation, to launch a new global streaming service featuring the company’s animated series. The Fantawild channel is planned for a launch in the second half of 2020 and will be available worldwide for linear and AVOD platforms on connected TVs, digital set-top boxes, media-streaming devices, as well as the Web.

In addition, Cinedigm will distribute select Fantawild programming in North America across its network of distribution partners in the streaming space, including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Google, Amazon and Tubi, among others.

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With 29 theme parks in operation and 10 more under development, Fantawild is one of the top drivers of China’s tourism industry and attracts more than 50 million visitors annually. The company is ranked No. 5 on the list of top 10 theme park groups worldwide, placing ahead of major U.S.-based park operators such as Six Flags Group, Cedar Rapids Group and Sea World Attractions, among others.

Fantawild Animation’s series are broadcast nationally on more than 200 TV stations and have garnered more than 300 billion views on streaming services to date, according to Cinedigm. Internationally, the programs have been distributed to more than 120 countries and territories including the U.S., Italy, Russia and Singapore.

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“As we have demonstrated over the last year, Cinedigm’s mission is to partner with the world’s largest media brands and launch new streaming services … and this partnership dramatically expands that scope,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Fantawild’s innovation and dedication to quality is on par with the world’s top animation companies, which makes its content acquired by the most renowned channels and digital platforms globally.”

With Cinedigm’s Chinese-based majority ownership, the home entertainment/OTT distributor has aggressively sought to mine that relationship in support of branded streaming video services such as Dove Channel, Docurama, CONtv and recently launched Bambu, a Chinese pop culture channel.

Fantawild’s “Boonie Bears” franchise is the country’s top animated media property, having the distinction of being the highest-rated TV series in the history of CCTV, China’s national TV network.

Daisy Shang, president of Fantawild Animation, said the Cinedigm partnership would be instrumental in achieving “our goals delivering and presenting our content to American audiences.”

Cinedigm Expands Linear/VOD Streaming Channels on Sony PlayStation, Android TV, Mobile Devices

Cinedigm Aug. 3 announced it has partnered with Littlstar to distribute its portfolio of linear and video-on-demand channels. Littlstar is a provider of film and television content to the gaming ecosystem, including Sony PlayStation, Android TV and related mobile devices.

Littlstar currently works with Discovery, Viacom, Showtime and Universal and is financially backed by A&E, Sony, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, WWE and Warner Bros., among others.

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“Cinedigm is on the pulse of what next generation viewers want, and we’re looking forward to innovating together with them to bring cutting edge content to new audiences,” Littlestar CEO Tony Mugavero said in a statement.

Littlstar will launch a selection of the Cinedigm streaming channels, including: The Bob Ross Channel, Comedy Dynamics, Chinese entertainment themed Bambu, Docurama, CONtv, Dove Channel, CONtv Anime, Whistle TV, horror-based Bloody Disgusting, So… Drama, featuring British and Australian dramas & mysteries, and So… Real, offering British non-fiction and reality TV series.

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“Our goal is to partner with companies that can help us reach new, highly engaged audiences,” said Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Networks. “Littlstar helps us reach the hundreds of millions of global viewers that use their gaming consoles to stream entertainment, on top of widespread footprint on mobile and connected televisions. Cinedigm will now reach more than three quarters of a billion devices globally.”

Cinedigm Partners With Bloody Disgusting for Ad-Supported Horror Streaming Network

Cinedigm and horror Web brand Bloody Disgusting have partnered to launch a new AVOD and ad-supported linear horror streaming network set to premiere in time for the Halloween season.

The network will offer a free source for horror content, targeting genre enthusiasts and casual viewers alike, according to a press release.

Featuring a mix of horror classics, contemporary cult favorites, and original programming, the channel will “reflect the programming and curatorial sensibilities” of Bloody Disgusting and the technology and distribution capabilities of Cinedigm, according to the release. Cinedigm will push the channel to more than 60 partners globally, which includes distribution partners such as Vizio, Samsung, Xumo and Tubi.

Horror is one of the most popular entertainment genres worldwide, representing over 9% of all film and entertainment spending and generating more than $1.2B in global ticket sales in 2019, according to the release.

“Despite a huge, mainstream fanbase, there is no dedicated ad-supported horror network on either basic cable or via linear OTT distribution,” according to the release. “Bloody Disgusting’s launch will fill an important void for operators in this popular genre.”

For nearly 20 years, Bloody Disgusting has been a destination for horror aficionados with an audience of more than 20 million dedicated fans seeking coverage of all things horror. The Chicago-based media company produces a namesake website and mobile app, and also produces the weekly show on YouTube “This Week in Horror” with a social footprint of more than 2 million engaged fans. Bloody Disgusting has also both produced and distributed films in the horror genre, including the Sundance Film Festival films V/H/S, V/H/S/2 and The Woman, as well as the TIFF Midnight Madness film Southbound.

The Bloody Disgusting channel will celebrate horror alongside feature presentations of their original films. New programming from Jon Grilz’ “Creepy,” “Bloody Disgusting’s Boo Crew,” “SCP Archives,” “Horror Queers” and “This Week in Horror” will also debut on the network this October with special trick-or-treat events planned for Halloween.

Cinedigm will also provide content from its catalog, which includes horror titles such as The Collector, Psycho, White Zombie and “Tales from the Crypt” and foreign favorites such as Destroy All Monsters, World of Kanako and Tenebrae.

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Bloody Disgusting has had more than 1.6 million downloads over the last 30 days, according to the release. Its podcasts regularly chart in the top 20 in their respective categories (Fiction, Film Review, and Film Interview). “Creepy” charts in the top five in fiction and is in the top 20 of all podcasts during the Halloween season. Both current and new podcasts will be made available in the consumer iOS and Android apps in addition to film and television programming. The company further expects to include additional mixed media content, including eBooks, comics and other content in the near future.

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“We are excited to bring our slate of original programming and network of podcasts to new audiences through this partnership. Cinedigm is the perfect partner to help bring this network to market,” said Tom Owen, president of Bloody Disgusting, in a statement.

“For nearly 20 years, Bloody Disgusting has been a leading tastemaker and the top media destination for the massive global horror fanbase,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Our goal is to partner with the market leader when we launch new channels, and in the horror genre, there is no better partner than Bloody Disgusting. We are excited to scare the hell out of the world together.”

Cinedigm Reports 34% Q1 Digital Revenue Increase

Cinedigm July 13 announced its strongest fiscal first-quarter (ended June 30) performance in more than five years. Citing the current stay-at-home environment among consumers, streaming video viewership increased across all platforms, including transactional VOD. Digital revenue increased 34% from the previous-year period.

“We have been laser focused on aggregating and distributing thousands of titles to the key streaming platforms like Netflix, Apple and Amazon given the huge demand for independent premium content we are seeing from both existing and newly launched platforms,” said Yolanda Macias, EVP of Cinedigm Entertainment Group.

Macias said that with existing and new streaming platforms requiring a steady supply of digital content to keep pace competitively, Amazon, Apple, Vudu, Google, InDemand EST, Hoopla, Microsoft, Sony and Fandango Now all generated their strongest performance levels in history with Cinedigm — achieving over 60% year-over-year quarterly growth.

Los Angeles-based Cinedigm said next-day such as Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart,” and ITV’s “Good Witch” series achieved strong consumer sales. Cinedigm orchestrated several consumer promotional programs to accelerate sales of digital catalog — including “Spring Sales,” “Mother’s Day,” “AnimeMay” and “June Weddings.”

Cinedigm closed eight new AVOD deals, including Redbox TV, Google and Fuse. Five more expansion deals are in process.

For children out of school and parents left to homeschool, Cinedigm has rolled out strategic promotions, including digital download activity books, digital bookmarks, and coloring books that coincide with educational content to increase content consumption and engage the platform’s audience.

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Cinedigm achieved 70% and 115% growth in Q1 from the previous-year period with content distribution partnership with Hoopla and Overdrive, respectively. In addition, the company executed a new business deal with Kanopy, a college library digital platform.

Cinedigm distributes film and TV content to more than 70 digital platforms in 180+ territories. Branded content includes co-productions in the action, western and military genres along with family (Hallmark, ZDF), anime (Konami Cross Media) and sports championship programs (NFL, NHL).

“We expect to continue these strong results going forward as our relationships with content producers and streaming content distribution platforms continue to get stronger and expand,” Macias said.

Cinedigm: OTT/Streaming Revenue Up 31%; COVID-19 Drops FY 2020 Revenue 27%,

Home entertainment/over-the-top video distributor Cinedigm July 6 reported that it narrowed its fiscal-year 2020 (ended March 31) net loss 10% to $14.7 million, from $15.9 million in FY 2019. Revenue dropped 27% to $39.2 million, from $53.5 million, largely due to the shutdown of the theatrical business. Cinedigm attributed the revenue decline to its digital projection business.

Meanwhile, streaming revenue increased 59% year-over-year, primarily driven by 466% growth in ad-supported linear television and ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) ad revenue growth. Total streaming-related revenue increased 31% year-over-year, with total sales of $24.4 million. Streaming-related billings now represent more than half of Cinedigm’s entertainment business.

“Clearly, we have made remarkable progress as an OTT/Streaming company over the last year, including achieving profitability in our core business in this fourth quarter by increasing [pre-tax earnings] by $3.5 million or 125% over last year,” CEO Chris McGurk said in a statement.

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McGurk said the distributor now markets a 16-channel OTT portfolio to include about 670 million global devices from more than 40 distribution partners worldwide.

“We grew ad-supported viewers on connected TV’s from zero to 13.2 million in 15 months, almost tripling viewers in just the last 7 months prior to May 31,” he said.

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“We are rapidly scaling up our streaming business to capitalize on the ongoing and permanent [pay-TV] cord-cutting shift towards OTT entertainment,” McGurk said. “Heavy streaming adoption rates, particularly for free, ad-supported linear channels, continue to dramatically accelerate.”

Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said the company’s revised model is driven by signing and launching new channels, increasing distribution footprint, growing viewership, and achieving monetization with scale partners.

“Our focus on these four key areas can be reflected in our results and our deals with the best companies in the industry,” Opeka said. “Given this, Cinedigm has enormous prospects for growth in the coming fiscal year.”

Cinedigm also strengthened its balance sheet with the addition of a 26% ownership interest in China’s Starrise and $15.5 million debt reduction.

“Reducing this debt decreased our interest expense by $3 million annually,” said COO Gary Loffredo.

‘Joy of Painting’ Coming to AVOD Service Tubi Via Cinedigm’s Docurama Channel

Fox Entertainment’s AVOD service Tubi (www.tubi.tv) bring 30 seasons of cult show “The Joy of Painting,” featuring the Bob Ross, to its library on the Docurama channel from Cinedigm.

More than 30 seasons and nearly 400 episodes will stream on Tubi by the end of July.

“Bob Ross and his unforgettable style make ‘The Joy of Painting’ the epitome of comfort TV,” said Adam Lewinson, chief content officer of Tubi, in a statement. “Tubi is proud to be a streaming home for this timeless and beloved series.”

“’The Joy of Painting’ has never been more popular, as evidenced by the ever-growing following and tremendous view count that Ross has garnered on social media platforms,” said Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with Tubi to introduce new audiences to this iconic program.”

In 1983 along with his partners Annette and Walt Kowalski, Ross launched the show on public television. From 1983 through 1994, Bob recorded more than 400 episodes and “The Joy of Painting” became one of the most popular and well-known shows on public television. His passion for teaching and inspiring others lives on today through the thousands of instructors who teach his method around the world. For many fans, Ross is the “King of ASMR,” the audio sensory meridian response that keeps people tuned in and watching his every move. He can also be found today at the forefront of an exciting and inspirational wellness movement.

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With total view time reaching a milestone 200 million hours of content streamed in April, Tubi has more 20,000 movies and television shows from nearly every major Hollywood studio.

Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and soon on Hisense TVs globally. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at http://www.tubi.tv/.

Cinedigm Launching Nine Streaming Channels on FreeCast’s SelectTV Service Guide

Cinedigm June 24 announced a partnership with streaming company FreeCast to bring nine of Cinedigm’s streaming networks to the former’s streaming service SelectTV. The service claims to make it easier to watch TV shows and movies by organizing all of the web’s entertainment into a comprehensive “SmartGuide.”

The guide searches, updates, organizes and manages more than 2 million video sources daily. The service is available in browsers, iOS and Android apps, and supports casting to most major TVs via Chromecast and Airplay support.

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Cinedigm channels coming to FreeCast include Bambu, Bob Ross Channel, Comedy Dynamics, CONtv, CONtv Anime, Docurama, Dove Channel, SoDrama and SoReal.

The deal with FreeCast is the latest expansion by Cinedigm Networks. The company plans on continued expansion this year of the company’s more than 330 million addressable devices in North America and more than 365 million internationally. The company plans to continue rapid expansion with digital platforms, OEMs, telcos, and cable andbroadband providers worldwide.

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“As families across North America seek more value out of their entertainment dollar, cord-cutting has truly become a mainstream phenomenon,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. ” SelectTV provides an amazing value to consumers and their SelectTV service puts us in front of a fast-growing, highly engaged user base. This deal furthers our mission of putting Cinedigm’s networks in every home in America, accessible on every connected device.”

Cinedigm to Promote Sports-Themed Whistle TV

Cinedigm is continuing to help third-party over-the-top video platforms gain distribution. The streaming video/home entertainment distributor announced a partnership with Team Whistle, a media and entertainment company that includes Whistle, Tiny Horse, New Form and Vertical Networks, to accelerate the distribution of its Whistle TV streaming service.

Whistle TV is an OTT linear and VOD sports and entertainment network featuring original shows and library content from studios, networks and leagues across the industry.

Whistle TV claims to fill a void in the market by combining brand safe sports, entertainment and lifestyle content.

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Cinedigm will work with Team Whistle to significantly expand Whistle TV’s nationwide distribution on linear, AVOD and SVOD platforms on connected TVs, digital set-top boxes, media-streaming devices, and Web-based and online OTT services. Further extending the partnership, Cinedigm will also distribute select Whistle TV films and series in North America across the broader OTT landscape.

Whistle TV is currently live on Samsung TV Plus, Vizio SmartCast and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s STIRR.

With the recent acquisitions of New Form and Vertical Networks in 2019, and most recently Tiny Horse in 2020, Team Whistle bolstered its portfolio of IP and studio, interactive, advertising and marketing services capabilities.

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“As we continue to drive innovation and growth of the streaming sector amidst a once-in-a-generation period of change, we are constantly looking for partners that represent where the business is headed,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Team Whistle’s premium content, massive scale and unmatched marketing make them a fantastic partner as we reinvent television together.”

Whistle’s premium original programming includes “No Days Off,” “My Hustle,” “Dunk League” and “Bad Jokes”. The platform also streams niche NCAA sports as well as arm wrestling and kickboxing.

Feature-length movies and documentaries include inspirational sports movies and TV series from studios, festivals and distribution companies such as The Modern Game, Wrestling with Life and Destination Team USA.

“Whistle TV is a first of its kind OTT network,” said Michael Cohen, president of Team Whistle. “Our goal is to deliver the content our audience craves where, when and how they want it. Cinedigm understands this, has extraordinary distribution relationships, and is the perfect partner to help us achieve our goals.”