Cinedigm’s Viewster Inks Deal With Foxxum

Cinedigm’s ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) service, Viewster, Feb. 10 announced a partnership with Foxxum — a marketer for Internet-connected televisions, to expand Viewster’s device support to include TCL, Sharp, Hisense and Vestel televisions.

The Viewster app was developed using Cinedigm’s proprietary software application development platform.

The agreement aims to establish Cinedigm as an emerging player in the international over-the-top video marketplace, making the company’s roster of content accessible to viewers on televisions from most major manufacturers.

In addition to the Foxxum-supported Smart TV devices, Cinedigm’s digital networks now have distribution across TV manufacturers, including Samsung, Vizio, Philips, and LG, among others.

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This move not only increases Cinedigm’s global footprint, but also allows the company to utilize Foxxum’s expertise in the areas of content and channel development, operations and marketing by providing access to the platform’s global ecosystem of connected Smart TV devices, according to Tony Huidor, SVP of product and technology.

The Viewster app is powered by software that enables content distributors and content owners to create compelling ad-supported and subscription-based video streaming services.

The software — dubbed “Matchpoint Blueprint” — will play a crucial role in the international rollout and market expansion of the Viewster app.

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“Foxxum is an international Smart TV marketplace, providing dynamic and innovative services to a wide array of connected devices across the industry,” Huidor said. “This partnership is a vital piece of Cinedigm’s continued mission to redefine the traditional television experience — expanding Cinedigm’s global footprint even further while also allowing us to introduce the tremendous capabilities of our Matchpoint Blueprint service to additional markets through Foxxum’s extensive reach on Smart TVs.”

“It is great to keep growing with partners like Cinedigm who add value to the Foxxum App store through Viewster and offer our viewers a huge variety of films and series all over the world. Such kind of cooperation strengthens our App Portfolio and boosts user engagement on our Smart TV platforms,” added Ronny Lutzi, CEO at Foxxum.

Cinedigm’s Viewster AVOD Service on Philips TVs

Cinedigm’s relaunch of its AVOD service Viewster is available worldwide via global television manufacturer Philips, the content supplier announced.

The Viewster app was developed using Cinedigm’s proprietary Matchpoint Blueprint application development platform.

The partnership establishes Cinedigm’s entry into the international marketplace. In addition to the ZEASN-supported Philips televisions, Cinedigm’s roster of digital networks have distribution across top-tier TV manufacturers, including Samsung, Vizio, Hisense, and LG, among others.

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“Cooperation with ZEASN to relaunch the Viewster App is a meaningful milestone, and it also presents Cinedigm with an incredible opportunity to distribute our unique programming offerings to one of the major television manufacturers in the world,” said Tony Huidor, Cinedigm’s SVP of product and technology, in a statement. “Philips’ wide distribution of their television hardware across major international territories will be integral to our strategy as we work to establish a global footprint, introducing both our digital networks as well as our proprietary Matchpoint Blueprint platform to new markets on one of the world’s leading television brands.”

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Jason He, CEO of ZEASN, said in a statement, “We are excited that the Viewster App has been successfully relaunched with the help of ZEASN’s services. ZEASN has been committed to providing the best smart home services for Internet users around the world. The Viewster App newly built by Cinedigm will bring a better user experience to Philips’ smart TV users and will help ZEASN to build a more complete Whale Ecosystem in the smart home industry.”

Cinedigm Partners With all3media International to Launch Two New AVOD Services

Cinedigm is going global upping its ad-supported VOD presence in the United States.

The home entertainment distributor Jan. 8 announced a partnership with all3media International — distributor of independent television production in the United Kingdom — to launch two new ad-supported AVOD services.

Cinedigm will distribute the AVOD services, managing, operating and curating the programming, and working jointly with all3media International in marketing

The programming slate includes “So … Dramatic” and the reality-themed series “So … Real.” Both networks are scheduled to begin rolling out in the first quarter of this year.

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“So … Dramatic” showcases content from all3media International’s library of dramas, targeted at men and women 25 years of age and older. The channel will feature a diverse lineup headlined by scripted shows from the U.K. and Australasia.

“So … Real” focuses on documentaries, including “The Only Way Is Essex,” showcasing a viewing experience that is touted as “funny, edgy, warm, and touching.” While the channel’s core audience is women 18-35, “So … Real” will also offer programming suitable for both women and men aged 35 and over.

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“We pride ourselves on building networks that offer something for everyone to enjoy,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement.

Opeka said the new AVOD channels serve as “perfect” complements to Cinedigm’s roster of digital networks, which include Dove Channel, CONtv, Docurama, Bambu and others.

“We look forward to building upon the tremendous success that all3media international’s properties have achieved, as we bring their premium programming to the U.S.,” Opeka said.

 

Comedy Dynamics Stand-Up Channel Now Streaming on Samsung TV Plus

Cinedigm Jan. 7 announced that the fully-curated linear version of the ad-supported video-on-demand Comedy Dynamics service is now available on Samsung TV Plus. The linear channel offers 24/7 stand-up comedy specials carefully curated by Comedy Dynamics’ staff.

Samsung TV Plus is Samsung’s free ad-supported video service. Pre-installed on all 2016-2019 Samsung Smart TVs, users can watch TV for free with just an Internet connection.

Founded in 2008, Comedy Dynamics is an independent producer of stand-up comedy content. With this new linear network, Samsung TV Plus users have access to Comedy Dynamic’s specials, both classic and modern, starring some of stand-up’s biggest performers. Cinedigm is the distributor of the channel.

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Performers include Jim Gaffigan, Whitney Cummings, Kevin Hart, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger, Tiffany Haddish, Jeff Dunham, Maria Bamford, Bob Saget, Tim Allen, Nick DiPaolo, Eddie Griffin, Bill Hicks, and more.

“Comedy Dynamics gives viewers the best seat in the house every night, delivering an unprecedented library of classic and modern specials from comedy’s biggest names and brightest stars,” Tony Huidor, GM of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement.

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Comedy Dynamics is behind the reboot of “Mad About You” featuring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, and has produced Netflix’s “Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History,” Netflix’s “The Toys That Made Us,” “The Movies That Made Us,” “Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape,” The CW’s “Discontinued,” Animal Planet’s “Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson,” the scripted comedy on Hulu “There’s… Johnny!,” History’s “Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson,” MTV2’s “Wild ’N On Tour,” Hulu’s “Coming To The Stage,” and unannounced projects for Disney+, BET+ and more.

Comedy Dynamics began releasing original films in theaters and released the acclaimed independent film Slut in a Good Way in Spring of 2019. In 2017, the Comedy Dynamics Network (CDN) launched and currently distributes specials, television shows and films to all major transactional platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google, PlayStation, Xbox and most major telco & satellite providers, including AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Dish, and Verizon.

Comedy Dynamics’ 17 releases have been Grammy-nominated (with three wins), including all five in the Comedy Album category for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019.

Eight Cinedigm Networks Coming to Free OTT Service DistroTV

Cinedigm is partnering with global OTT streaming service DistroTV to bring eight of its networks to the free platform’s programming roster this month.

They include the fanspace-based outlet CONtv and CONtv Anime, the family-focused Dove Channel, and the fact-based Docurama, as well as Chinese pop culture channel Bambu, stand-up special supplier Comedy Dynamics, combat sports hub Combat Go, and global Asian pop culture community HallyPop.

DistroTV offers a diverse range of programming options covering sports, news, entertainment, travel, film, television, fashion, fitness, music and more in live, linear and on-demand formats. DistroTV is available for free on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices.

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“As one of the first major partners of the DistroTV streaming service, Cinedigm is once again breaking new ground — expanding our distribution footprint event further with the launch of eight of our most popular networks on the growing entertainment platform,” said Tony Huidor, Cinedigm’s GM of digital networks, in a statement. “DistroTV and Cinedigm share a similar vision of redefining the traditional television experience and putting the power back in the hands of the user. This agreement plays an integral role in our mission to deliver our unique channels and programming to viewers all across the globe, opening up our eclectic offerings to a whole new audience. We look forward to supplying DistroTV with more of the same top-quality content that our networks are known for.”

“We are thrilled to team with Cinedigm and to deliver their exciting suite of channels.” said Navdeep Saini, CEO and founder of DistroTV parent company DistroScale, in a statement. “The quality and variety of their content fits perfectly with our global free streaming platform DistroTV.”

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Cinedigm Acquires Stake in Chinese Entertainment Company

Home entertainment distributor Cinedigm has signed a stock purchase to acquire about 29% of Chinese entertainment company Starrise Media Holdings Limited. In exchange for the stake, Cinedigm is giving a total of 54,850,103 shares of Class A Common Stock worth about $44.5 million. The company expects to close the acquisition in the first quarter.

Cinedigm, which is majority-owned by Hong Kong based investment firm Bison Holding Co., says the deal would help its presence and leverage in both the Chinese and North American markets.

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“These are the two biggest entertainment markets in the world,” Chris McGurk, CEO of Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Following the close of this transaction, Cinedigm will be uniquely well positioned to grow our content distribution and OTT streaming businesses in both key territories.”

The company expects to obtain the approval of the acquisition by a majority stockholders, in addition to any regulatory issues — the latter no small matter in today’s hyper-charged trade environment between the Trump Administration and China.

“This proposed transaction is a strong additional measure of support for Cinedigm by Bison Capital, our largest shareholder,” said CEO Gary Loffredo. “We look forward to working with Bison to identify additional opportunities to build our business, particularly in the fast growing AVOD OTT streaming segment as well as further strengthening our balance sheet.”

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Cinedigm has already been working with Bison to develop strategies and forge partnerships to release entertainment content and develop OTT channels in China while, reciprocally, releasing Chinese content and new OTT channels in North America, such as the recently launched Chinese language content channel, Bambu.

In calendar year 2018, Starrise reported about $139 million in total revenue and gross profit of $31 million, a 97% increase from 2017 revenue and 196% increase in gross profit. In the first half of calendar year 2019, the Starrise reported revenue of about $67 million and gross profit of $19 million, a 11% increase in revenue and 104% increase in gross profit.

Starrise’s film/TV business segment mainly invests in film, television and other short-form content. It distributes film content theatrically and to all key media platforms in China and is committed to significantly growing its investment in entertainment content for the rapidly expanding Chinese theatrical and digital marketplaces.

Recent prominent film investments by Starrise include The Wandering Earth, one of the most successful Chinese films ever released, generating almost $700 million at the box office in China in 2019 and The Grandmaster of Kung Fu, a successful Internet-released action movie.

EMA Sets Dates, Location for 2nd Annual OTT Confab, Announces Biweekly Webinar Series

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) has announced preliminary plans for the second annual OTT_X Market and Conference.

The home entertainment trade group also announced a biweekly webinar series, beginning next year, that will give member companies the chance to present thought leadership and showcase their products

The 2020 OTT_X Market and Conference will be held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on  July 21 and 22. The centrally located facility has been home to EMA’s OTT_X (formerly Digital Media) Pipeline for the past decade. The OTT_X Market and Conference will expand to include two full days of conference sessions  as well as specialized tracks of breakouts and work groups.  A themed “show floor” will be added, providing space for organizations interested in acquiring content (retailers/channels/platforms) to meet with those looking to license their content (studios/networks/aggregators) as well as technology and service providers.  Private meeting rooms will be available as well.

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Another new element will be the Partner Showcase, where content providers and technology and service providers can present or demonstrate their offerings. The event also will offer networking opportunities at breakfast and lunch functions and at the Industry Cocktail Party.

“This is the perfect venue to enable all aspects of OTT_X including business exchange, education, knowledge sharing, networking and advancing cross-industry initiatives,” said Mark Fisher, EMA’s president and CEO.  “Both casual meetings and private meetings are comfortably accommodated, and the venue is perfect to host our main conference program, our breakouts, and our show floor.”

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“The OTT_X conference is one of the premier digital events in our industry, offering invaluable resources to seasoned professionals and newcomers alike,” added Erick Opeka, president of Digital Networks at Cinedigm and the Conference Chair.

The webinar series begins Jan. 15. All EMA member companies are invited to propose a topic, along with an outline, for presentation in this webinar series.  Once approved, the presenting company will select from the calendar of dates available.  Presentations will take place on the first and third Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. Pacific Time and will be scheduled for one hour.

Submissions can be made, starting on Dec. 16, to Mark Fisher at mfisher@entmerch.org.

EMA Elects Officers, Appoints Board Members

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, has been re-elected chairman of the home entertainment trade group the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). Douglas will be serving his second term as chairman.

Joining Douglas as officers are vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, content acquisitions and partnerships, PlayStation Video; secretary Pedro Guiterrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft Corp.; and treasurer Michele Edelman, head of growth, Premiere Digital Services.

Eric Opeka

Bill Kotzman, Google/YouTube’s partner product manager, TV and Film; Erick Opeka, president, Cinedigm Digital Networks; and Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Medial Group, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Amazon returns to the EMA’s board, now represented by senior product manager Jude Fitzmorris.

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Other returning board members are Amit Balan, head of marketing at Vudu, and Marty Graham, SVP at ComScore.

Three members newly appointed board members are Opeka, Edelman and Elissa Brown, VP of finance and operations at Movies Anywhere.

“The companies on EMA’s board of director reflect the variety of delivery mechanisms and business models in our vibrant industry,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as EMA continues to be the forum for the home entertainment industry.”

The EMA is a not-for-profit international trade association. Members include digital retailers, MVPDs, AVOD and SVOD networks and channels, platforms, companies creating and/or distributing content for these channels of distribution, and companies providing services or technology for the use of others in this community. EMA was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA).

Roku Offering Free Premium Content on Ad-Supported Channel

The Roku Channel, the subscription streaming media device manufacturer’s ad-supported service offering users access to third-party catalog programming, Sept. 30 began showcasing select third-party premium content — for free.

In a blog post, Roku announced it is offering programming from CBS-owned Showtime, MGM-owned Epix, HISTORY, Cinedigm, and Acorn TV, among others, in an attempt to jumpstart subscriptions to third-party services.

Programming includes: “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” (SHOWTIME), “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX), “America The Story of Us” (HISTORY Vault), “Heartland” (Dove Channel), and “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” (Acorn TV), and more, with no subscription or even trial required.

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“Once you’ve sampled your new favorite show, follow one-click sign-up to begin a free trial or start a subscription,” Nicole Fencel, senior manager, programming product strategy at Roku, said in statement.

The Roku Channel is upping third-party premium over-the-top video services, as well as offering more than 80,000 ad-supported movies and TV episodes, more than 35 live and linear streaming services, including kids & family entertainment. 

 

Thriller ‘Awake’ Heading to Disc Sept. 24

Cinedigm will release the thriller Awake on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 24.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as a man who wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. His nurse Diana (Francesca Eastwood) is unable to find any identification and refers to him as John Doe.

The police barge into the hospital, accusing him of being a serial killer responsible for the murder of several young women in the area.

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John Doe manages to escape with the help of Diana, who is convinced of his innocence. The fugitives then set off for the last crime scene in search of clues and answers to clear his name but uncover a shocking truth behind his identity.