Cinedigm’s ‘The Bob Ross Channel’ Streaming on Sinclair’s STIRR

Cinedigm May 19 announced the launch of The Bob Ross Channel on STIRR, an ad-supported, live and on-demand streaming service owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The channel can be accessed on iOS and Android devices, as well as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and online at www.STIRR.com.

Ross, who died in 1995, was an art instructor and television host. His show “The Joy of Painting” aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994 in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.

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“The Joy of Painting” has more than 5.5 million social media followers, as well as 5.6 million unique views on Twitch, nearly one million hours consumed on Hulu, and an hour-long YouTube special that attracted over 2.5 million viewers.

The Ross Channel will showcase the series’ 380 episodes. As part of Cinedigm’s agreement with Bob Ross Inc., the distributor will produce and distribute PSAs for public television on the channel, as well as spots highlighting Ross painting products and certified instructors.

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“Through our partnership with the Bob Ross company, we aim to leverage our broad reach and expertise within the OTT space to extend the legacy created by Bob Ross,” Erick Opeka, president of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement.

Cinedigm Sees 100% Uptick in AVOD Viewing; Adds Distribution on Redbox

Home entertainment distributor Cinedigm is ramping up distribution across its branded ad-supported content channels. The company April 21 said its AVOD partner networks saw about 9.4 million monthly viewers in March — up more than 108% from the 4.5 million viewers in October 2019.

The company’s “Free Ad-supported TV” (FAST) platform reached about 7.2 million monthly active viewers across eight partner channels, including Xumo, Stirr, Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Vizio Watch Free, and DistroTV, among others.

Its AVOD channel reached approximately 2.2 million monthly unique viewers across five channels on Tubi, Stirr, Xumo, and others. Total viewing hours increased 636% year-over-year and more than 419% since last October. Total viewing hours were up 28% in March with the commencement of shelter-in-place restrictions due to COVID-19.

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“Our strategic focus on linear and scale AVOD channel deployment continues to pay off with rapid growth of our user footprint,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Despite the challenges facing America and the advertising industry in whole, our focus on building a strong base of addressable, connected TV users and an emphasis on premium film and TV content has us well-positioned in the most defensible sector in the advertising industry.”

Cinedigm expanded its content distribution footprint in Q1, including launches on Vizio WatchFree, Foxxum, Zeasn/Philips and Redbox TV, among others, as part of an ongoing strategy partnering with digital platforms, OEMs, telecoms, and cable & broadband providers both domestically and internationally.

Other first-quarter highlights include Cinedigm’s Channel partnership with Bob Ross Inc. for a branded platform launch on April 16th. Cinedigm said would roll out additional platforms over the coming quarter and anticipates reach of more than 90 million homes by the end of Q2.

Cinedigm’s European-centric AVOD service, Viewster, relaunched in Europe on select smart televisions — with expansion planned in Asia, India and Latin America over the coming quarters.

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Separately, Cinedigm plans to launch two additional channels later this year, beginning with CONtv Anime, a 24/7 Japanese animation network to launch this quarter, as well as All3Media in the coming quarter.

Director Touts First Feature ‘Spy Intervention’ as a Light-Hearted Fable to Counter Difficult Times

Director Drew Mylrea says his first feature Spy Intervention is a nice diversion from the economic and COVID-19 woes plaguing the world.

“Considering everything that’s going on, our movie is a romp,” he said. “It’s a total romp, and if you just want to kick back and relax and not think about the world and what’s going on in the world for an hour and a half, this is a great way to do it.”

Spy Intervention, available now on VOD and digital, comes out on DVD March 31 from Cinedigm.

It follows Corey Gage (Drew Van Acker), the world’s greatest spy, who suddenly meets the woman of his dreams (Poppy Delevingne) and decides to abandon his adventurous life and settle for the security of suburbia — a quaint existence he’s never known. When an evil plot to ruin the world pushes his former spy friend (Blake Anderson) to enact a “spy intervention,” he returns to his old life of adventure, deceiving the wife he loves.

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“We wanted to do something different,” Mylrea says. “Spy intervention isn’t a Hollywood spy film, and it’s also not a parody. It’s a modern fairytale.”

To accentuate the artificiality of the spy world versus the suburban reality, Mylrea employed shifting aspect ratios and music, among other things.

“We used a lot of the same techniques that you’d see in the really old Batman show with Adam West [for the spy scenes], and we had these models that look obviously fake and we used the same aspect ratio as a lot of those old TV shows to kind of tell the audience that this world is artificial, a silly fantasy and no place that a real person can live,” he says.

The aspect ratio shifted to a wider screen for the hero’s life with this wife.

“We filmed that in the more conventional aspect ratio, more conventional framing that you would see in a modern movie or a movie about modern relationships,” Mylrea says.

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Like any fable, Spy Intervention has a moral lesson, Mylrea says, even if it’s just to question how one navigates a life of security versus adventure.

“I think the best movies present questions, so they don’t tell you what to think,” Mylrea says. “I think the moral of the movie is kind of a question to the audience asking where do you fall on this spectrum of security versus adventure and how did you get there? Are you happy with the ratio that you have in your life?”

Cinedigm App Development Platform Now Linked to Roku

Cinedigm Feb. 24 announced an expanded third-party app development support for the Roku platform via its “Matchpoint Blueprint” software. The cross-platform framework enables content owners to launch feature-rich OTT video streaming apps for The Roku Channel, Roku TVs and other Smart TVs.

Cinedigm claims its app platform enables developers — in weeks, not months — fully integrated billing, configurable content menus, custom watch lists, in-app notifications and alerts, machine learning-based recommendations, single sign-on (SSO), DRM, ad support, and advanced analytics reporting, among other features.

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In addition to the Roku devices, “Matchpoint Blueprint” is compatible on iOS and Android devices — allowing developers to stream content directly from their phones using the platform’s Chromecast capabilities.

“Roku users have responded warmly to our eclectic content in the past, and we are excited to provide them with another intuitive premium offering that will help them create high-quality apps of their own,” Tony Huidor, GM, digital networks with Cinedigm, said in a statement.

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GM Aspiring creators and seasoned professionals alike will benefit tremendously from all that the user-friendly Blueprint Plus app offers — making what was once a long, expensive, and often arduous process significantly easier and more cost-effective, and allowing them to bring their unique visions fully to life as they get their creations out and to consumers in far less time than on similar template apps.”

 

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.