Cinedigm Inks Streaming Deal With Genius Brands International

Cinedigm April 20 announced a digital content partnership with Genius Brands International for its Kartoon Channel!, an ad-supported streaming channel offering family-friendly content. The deal encompasses VOD as well as Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) rights.

Cinedigm will provide movies such as animated feature, Cinderella, Hero Quest, featuring the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Sharon Stone and Milla Jovovich, and Bunyan & Babe with characters voiced by John Goodman, Kelsey Grammar and Jeff Foxworthy. The partnership also includes five seasons (236 episodes) of the anime series, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters” and holiday favorites like “The Nutcracker.”

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“As we continue to expand into the AVOD and FAST spaces, we are committed to partnering with gold standard companies and brands,” Chris McGurk, CEO of Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Having worked with [Genius Brands CEO] Andy Heyward for decades and knowing the Genius Brands team, I know that Kartoon Channel! fits this goal well.”

Additional films included in the content distribution partnership include:
Snow White
• Puss in Boots: A Furry Tail
• The Hive
• Twinkle Toes Lights Up New York
• Tad: The Lost Explorer
• Hatched
• A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventure
• A Turtle’s Tale 2: Sammy’s Escape From Paradise

Cinedigm Tops 640,000 SVOD Subs; 23.8 Million Monthly AVOD Views

Cinedigm April 14 announced record milestones for its subscription and ad-supported channel businesses. In March 2021, Cinedigm’s total streaming viewer footprint reached about 23.8 million monthly active ad-supported viewers across Cinedigm’s digital networks distributed via linear Free Ad-supported TV (FAST) and ad-supported VOD, up more than 208% year-over-year.

Additionally, the company reported that total subscribers to the streaming services surpassed 640,000, up 574% year-over-year. Approximately 423 million minutes were streamed in March 2021, a new company record, and up 305% year-over-year. Advertising requests increased 431% year-over-year. About 96% of all streaming occurred in connected TV (“CTV”) environments.

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Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer and president of digital networks, said the company’s streaming video success is not going unnoticed among marketers.

“Major brands and media companies approaching us regularly to assist them in developing streaming strategies that most effectively monetize their properties and attract new audiences,” Opeka said. “We have added four new OTT channels, more than 15,000 movies and TV episodes and a leading streaming technology company with a strong base in the fast-growing South Asian market in just the last 5 months.”

 

‘Nomadland,’ ‘Willy’s Wonderland’ Top New Digital, Disc Releases April 13

Awards-season frontrunner Nomadland, from Disney’s Searchlight Pictures, tops the list of new digital sellthrough titles April 13, while Screen Media’s Willy’s Wonderland leads the list of new disc releases.

The critically acclaimed Nomadland, an exploration of modern-day van life on the road starring Oscar winner Frances McDormand, is now available from digital retailers after a simultaneous run ion Hulu and in theaters, where it pulled in $2.1 million domestically. It arrives on Blu-ray Disc April 27.

The Oscar-nominated film as already won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture — Drama, and Best Director for Chloé Zhao, who also recently became just the second woman to win the top prize from the Directors Guild of America.

Screen Media releases the comedic horror actioner Willy’s Wonderland on Blu-ray Disc and DVD April 13. Nicolas Cage stars as a quiet loner who finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. He soon discovers the Wonderland’s dark secret when he’s trapped inside and forced to battle the possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls.

RLJE Films April 13 releases the documentary Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist on Blu-ray, VOD and for digital purchase. Leap of Faith examines the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, the nuances of director William Friedkin’s filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that helped shape his life and filmography, as told by the man himself. The film originally debuted on Shudder, a premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural. Both RLJ and Shudder are owned by AMC Networks.

Lionsgate April 13 releases the DVD of the 13th season of History’s “Ancient Aliens,” the controversial series that explores stories of extraterrestrial contact with Earth.

PBS April 13 releases the “Nature” documentary Pumas — Legends of the Ice Mountains on DVD.

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Warner Archive offers a number of Blu-ray selections April 13, including the musical Broadway Melody of 1940, the 1932 pre-code horror film Doctor X, the 1947 drama Green Dolphin Street, and the animated Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space: The Complete Series.

Kino Lorber April 13 offers new Blu-rays of two Mel Brooks classics: 1967’s The Producers and 1987’s Spaceballs, the latter also arriving on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time.

Also from Kino April 13 is the comedy The Wild Life, screenwriter Cameron Crowe’s 1984 spiritual successor to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Read our review here.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Cinedigm Acquires Series ‘The Island’ for Screambox SVOD Service

Cinedigm has acquired all North American rights to the coming-of-age, pandemic thriller series “The Island” from ZDF Enterprises.

The series is slated to premiere on Cinedigm’s recent digital network acquisition Screambox, a SVOD service for horror movies and TV series.

The eight-part series centers on a remote island in the North Sea that falls victim to a merciless and mysterious virus. As authorities rush to contain the disease, a fever of madness sweeps across the island.

The limited series was released in Germany last Summer. Cinedigm plans to premiere the series this July exclusively on Screambox, with two episodes releasing each week. The episodes will be offered in its original language with English subtitles and English dubbed.

“We are thrilled to bring ‘The Island’ to audiences this summer,” Yolanda Macias, chief content officer at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “The acquisition of Screambox gives us the opportunity to pursue titles within this incredibly popular and diverse genre to an underserved audience. Horror has a history of originality and we are eager to seek out titles like ‘The Island’ and provide a subtitled and dubbed experience to horror and thrill-seeking super fans.”

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“In ‘The Island,’ a coming-of-age-drama and post-apocalyptic disaster thriller merge into a modern epic. In a radical, uncompromising manner, the series raises the question of what happens to us modern people when the thin varnish of our civilization collapses. It has all the hallmarks of a top-quality thriller,” Robert Franke, VP, ZDFE.drama at ZDF Enterprises, said in a statement.

The series is directed by Christian Alvart, who also wrote and directed the Netflix series “Dogs of Berlin,” and Adolfo J. Kolmerer.

The Film Detective Streaming Oscar Classics in April

Cinedigm March 30 announced that the distributor is celebrating the history of the Academy Awards in April with a month-long celebration on The Film Detective, a classic media streaming network. Cinedigm recently acquired the network’s extensive library of 3,000 content titles, an estimated 10,000 individual film and TV episodes and two Free-Ad-Supported-Television (FAST) linear networks.

The Film Detective will feature a different Oscar nominated or winning film from Hollywood’s Golden Age, every night at 8 p.m. ET leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony on April 25. Among the films featured will be four-time nominees like William Powell and Irene Dunne’s Life with Father (1947) and Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield’s Sounder (1972).

Academy Award winners will receive the spotlight on April 25 with a 24-hour marathon from dramas like The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) and A Star Is Born (1937) to Best Documentary winners including Prelude to War (1942) and The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975).

Oscar Night will be one of many movie marathons on The Film Detective in April. Comedy fans will enjoy celebrations in honor of April Fools’ Day on April 1, featuring films from comedian Jerry Lewis and episodes from new arrival — The Jerry Lewis Show: 1957-62 TV Specials. Comedy’s favorite Carol Burnett will also be celebrated on her 88th birthday with episodes from “Stanley” (1956-57) and “The Carol Burnett Show” (1967-78) on April 26.

April celebrations on The Film Detective will also include an Easter marathon on April 4. A morning of religious films including three-time Oscar nominee The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) and gospel music from “Queen of Gospel Song” Mahalia Jackson will start the day, followed by classic musicals in the evening like Something to Sing About (1937) and Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), featuring an all-star cast that includes Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Van Johnson, Angela Lansbury and Frank Sinatra.

Cinedigm’s Dove Channel Joins Family ‘Frndly TV’

Cinedigm, the parent company of Dove Channel, March 22 announced an agreement to bring the family friendly subscription streaming service to the Frndly TV platform. The agreement brings Dove Channel’s movies and TV series, including “The Lucy Show,” “Gumby,” “The Little Rascals” and “Madeline,” to Frndly TV subscribers.

“Dove Channel’s extensive programming is a perfect fit for our goal of bringing to market family friendly TV,” Michael McKenna, chief programming officer of Frndly TV, said in a statement.

The launch of the $4.99 monthly Dove Channel on the $5.99 monthly Frndly TV lineup in the second quarter expands both Frndly TV’s offering of linear channels and increases the platform’s on-demand library by more than a thousand hours, while keeping the current price structure for subscribers.

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Los Angeles-based Cinedigm launched Dove Channel in 2015, citing high consumer demand for family-friendly content, offering viewers safe programming options and full access to a library of value-based films, children’s programs, documentaries, and series in the streaming marketplace. Titles include the above mentioned TV series as well as films such as A Christmas Kiss, Letters to God, and Left-Behind: The Movie, among others.

“Cinedigm is focused on delivering enthusiast audiences with content they’re passionate about and our partnership with Frndly TV underscores that notion of family safe programming,” said Erick Opeka, president/CSO of Cinedigm Networks.

Cinedigm Launches 11 Streaming Channels on SelectTV

Cinedigm and FreeCast announced an agreement that will bring 11 of Cinedigm’s streaming, free ad-supported television (FAST) channels to SelectTV and other SmartGuide-powered services.

The SmartGuide is an aggregated television platform, providing on-demand and linear television that includes ad-supported, subscription, and pay-per-view content. The company’s distribution via the internet and ability to monetize content via dynamic ad-insertion (DAI) mean that even channels with smaller audiences can be commercially viable, and larger channels can find new viewers online as more watching transitions to the web.

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“As the television viewing audience continues to shift away from established cable and satellite providers onto OTT, it is critical that Cinedigm make it’s channels widely available,” Tony Huidor, GM of digital Nnetworks. “It is through the high-scalability of our Matchpoint platform and via partners, such as FreeCast, that we can ensure our viewers that they can find our content on every platform and every OTT service out there.”

The channels include:

  • Bambu — Chinese cinema and TV;
  • Bloody Disgusting — A top horror destination featuring an assortment of celebrated cult favorites, original series and exclusive content;
  • The Bob Ross Channel — Official channel dedicated to the work of iconic painter Bob Ross;
  • ComedyDynamics — The tastemaker for comedy featuring standup performances by Jim Gaffigan, Tiffany Haddish, Iliza Shlesinger, Marc Maron and many more;
  • CONtv — The destination for cult and retro film and TV series;
  • ContvAnime — 24/7 anime;
  • Docurama — Award-winning true-life documentaries, films and TV series. An eclectic mix of thought-provoking entertainment;
  • Dove Channel — Family movies and iconic TV series including “Heartland,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Lucy Show­”;
  • MyTime — Heart-stopping thrillers, date-night rom-coms, heartwarming holiday favorites, and original programming;
  • So … RealBritish and Australian lifestyle and reality TV series, including “Gordon Behind Bars” and “Only Way is Essex,” from All3 Media;
  • Whistle SportsSports and lifestyle entertainment.

 

“We’re excited to work with Cinedigm and add their channels to SelectTV, because that’s what this business has always been all about,” said FreeCast CEO William Mobley. “We help consumers get access to channels that match their interests, and we help programmers reach audiences that are interested in their content. And we do it for both much more affordably than traditional TV networks and providers do.”

Cinedigm Acquires ‘Films Around the World’ Library

Cinedigm March 16 announced the acquisition of the Films Around the World content library. With more than 150 movies and 500 hours of audio programs, the library is one of the largest independently owned classic film libraries. Cinedigm plans to distribute the titles through its network of SVOD/AVOD streaming platforms. 

“The library is a perfect complement to the classic film enthusiast found on our recently acquired The Film Detective and Fandor channels,” COO Yolanda Macias said in a statement. “In addition to AVOD and subscription VOD revenue, we intend to increase the footprint of this library, reaching even more fans, through our deep digital distribution muscle and numerous transactional digital partners.”  

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Many of original 35mm films stored are currently stored and preserved at the University of California, Los Angeles. The library includes classic dramas, thrillers, comedies and Westerns, horror films from 1940s to the 1980s, exploitation films and cult films from 1970s. In addition, the library includes radio shows, including Joe Pyne Radio, Norman Vincent and Jean Shepherd, most known for being the author and narrator of The Christmas Story. 

The library also includes the Academy Award nominated The Shanghai Gesture, a 1941 American film noir starring Gene Tierney and Victor Mature, and based on the Broadway play of the same name. Additional highlights include horror films Strangler of the Swamp, The Flying Serpent and Devil Bat’s Daughter. Westerns found in include Navajo Kid as well as John Wayne classics Blue Steel, Dawn Rider and Texas Terror.  

The library was owned and operated by the late Alex Kogan, who passed away in 2017. A graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, B.S.E. 1959, and Harvard Law School, J.D., 1962. Kogan operated in New York for over 40 years. 

Previous industry clients of Films Around The World include Turner Classic Movies, Amazon, Shout! Factory and Starz.  

“Alex was a treasure trove of film history, not only was he a passionate collector he was also one of the most resourceful and forward-thinking people I knew on my side of the industry,” said Phil Hopkins, president of The Film Detective. “We are thrilled to acquire this important film and media library which includes the original film elements of John Wayne’s early films as well as many other important genre films.” 

Fandor Returning to SXSW Online 2021 to Celebrate 10 Years Streaming Independent Cinema

Fandor, a unit of Cinedigm streaming independent movies, is returning to SXSW Online 2021, March 16-20, to celebrate 10 years operating as a subscription streaming video service.

Originally introduced in 2011 at the annual Austin, Texas-based media event, Fandor is preparing to launch its next chapter after being acquired in January by Cinedigm. Currently offering thousands of titles across myriad genres, Fandor will soon be available with an updated app as part of the relaunch.

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As part of the anniversary event, Fandor will offer an exclusive screening of Sex, Drugs, and Bicycles from filmmaker Jonathan Blank. The film is a funny and provocative exposé on Holland’s social democracy and will be available to stream throughout the duration of SXSW.

Cinedigm plans to leverage the Fandor library, technology, engineering and distribution capabilities to its global footprint of more than 900 million connected devices. The home entertainment distributor/OTT video operator anticipates Fandor could reach seven figure subscriber levels within the next 24 to 30 months.

Fandor plans to stream titles from The Film Detective, which it acquired in December 2020. Cinedigm also plans on ramping up new and existing content partnerships, in addition to relaunching “Keyframe,” Fandor’s digital publication of written articles and video essays dedicated to covering the art of cinema. The goal is to relaunch the service in the coming quarter.

“We intend to assemble an editorial team of film bloggers from around the globe and work with film festivals and independent producers to build a united form of independent cinema discovery,” Phil Hopkins, president of Fandor and The Film Detective, said in a statement.

Cinedigm will continue to offer the service ad-free for a fee, but also plans to offer a free, ad-supported on-demand tier as well as a linear streaming channel to further broaden the service’s reach to audiences of all viewing preferences.

Cinedigm Joining Indian Streaming Media Bandwagon

Cinedigm March 8 announced it has reached an agreement to acquire FoundationTV, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based analytics company with an engineering and R&D hub in Kolkata, India.

Founded in 2013 by a team of computer and data scientists with extensive expertise in streaming media, big data, AI, cloud and distributed systems, FoundationTV enables streaming services to operate on a global scale. The company co-developed the Matchpoint technology platform that currently backends Cinedigm’s portfolio of streaming channels.

FoundationTV founder Samrat Ganguly

Cinedigm plans to integrate FoundationTV, Matchpoint and their respective software teams into a new Indian-based division, Cinedigm India. The new division will be based in Kolkata and will serve as the company’s engineering, research and development hub for video streaming technology.  As part of the acquisition, FoundationTV co-founders Sudipta Ghorui and Sudeept Bhatnagar will take on leadership roles and jointly oversee the Cinedigm India operations. FoundationTV’s engineering team will join Cinedigm, and will be responsible for further developing and enhancing the combined platform’s state-of-the-art capabilities.

“With the completion of this acquisition, Cinedigm now has the proprietary technology to compete with the largest streaming services in the industry and also an even more compelling competitive advantage as we accelerate our strategy of growth through acquisition,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer and president of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

In addition to enhancing and extending Cinedigm’s streaming business, the Indian team will also begin development and planning for a new, branded global service that will showcase the home entertainment distributor’s portfolio of more than 20 branded streaming channels and thousands of hours of video content.

The company plans to enable subscriptions individually, or with multiple Cinedigm services under one affordable bundle, and will offer them for purchase in App Stores across the streaming ecosystem, as well as through select distribution partners around the globe.

FoundationTV follows up on Cinedigm’s recent acquisitions of The Film Detective, Fandor and Screambox. The platform will also be made available commercially to select Cinedigm partners and customers.

FoundationTV has also developed a proprietary AI-based recommendation engine that enables personalized experiences, maximizes subscriber engagement. Moving above and beyond simple content recommendations, the company’s technology automates the personalization of a user’s entire streaming experience — recommended media, genres, personalized search, contextualized content, dynamic programming and more.

“We are excited to become a part of Cinedigm in taking the next leap redefining and transforming the streaming experience for consumers, scaling on a global footprint with Cinedigm content and building on our intelligence driven cloud-native streaming technology platform,” Ganguly said.