Cinedigm Acquires Streaming Rights to Canadian Drama ‘Heartland’

Cinedigm Sept. 26 announced the acquisition of Canadian family-friendly drama “Heartland.” The 10-season series will make its Dove Channel debut in October. Rights to the show were acquired from international distributor Kew Media Distribution.

Dove Channel is one of Cinedigm’s nine over-the-top video channels. In addition to Dove, the company operates martial arts network Combat Go; factual network Docurama; fandom lifestyle network CONtv; eSports lifestyle network Wham; Asian music and pop culture network Hallypop; a Chinese entertainment channel; and the family-focused Dove Kids.

Based on Lauren Brooke’s book series of the same name, “Heartland” follows Amy Fleming and her estranged sister Lou, who are suddenly reunited when their mother’s sudden death forces Lou to leave behind her relationship and career in New York City for the rigors of Heartland Ranch. Together, with their grandfather, Jack Bartlett, and loyal ranch hand Ty Borden, Amy and Lou work to adapt to their new circumstances and rebuild their relationship while dealing with the trials and tribulations of life on the ranch.

The series stars Amber Marshall, Michelle Morgan, Graham Wardle, and Shaun Johnston, and features notable guest appearances by “Arrow” star Stephen Amell and Katharine Isabelle (“Hannibal”), as well as Beau Mirchoff (“Awkward”), Keegan Connor Tracy (“Once Upon A Time”), Benjamin Hollingsworth (“Code Black”), and Kari Matchett (“Covert Affairs”), among others. The series is the longest-running 60-minute scripted drama in Canadian television history.

“For more than a decade, ‘Heartland’ has stood as one of Canada’s most popular television series of all time — resonating with viewers for its powerful storylines and realistic characters,” Erick Opeka, EVP of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement.

Dove Channel was launched in 2015 catering to family-friendly content, offering viewers safe programming options and full access to a library of values-based movies, children’s programs, documentaries, and series in the streaming marketplace. Content featured on the Dove Channel is approved by The Dove Foundation and its Faith & Family Dove Seals of Approval.

Cinedigm’s Docurama and CONtv Join Sling TV

Cinedigm Sept. 12 announced the launch of Docurama and the fandom-focused CONtvon Dish Network’s online TV service Sling TV. The launch is a continuation of the agreement between Cinedigm and Sling TV, which began with the launch of Dove Channel on June 28, Cinedigm’s first OTT network offered on Sling TV.

Docurama and CONtv are now available to Sling TV subscribers throughout the U.S., offered as an individual add-on for $5 a month.

“These channels both cater to distinct audiences who are passionate, knowledgeable, and know exactly what they want to see,” Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm’s Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to provide the rapidly growing Sling TV community with our diverse entertainment programming.”

Docurama is an immersive streaming service delivering documentaries and true-life television series. Launched as a VOD service in 2014, Docurama provides viewers with a vast library featuring hundreds of films, shorts, and series, as well as insightful interviews and in-depth film festival coverage.

Docurama content on Sling includes the Nick Cave film, 20,000 Days On Earth, the innovative spiritual exploration Samsara, fairytale Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, and the in-depth Mafia series Gangster Empire.

CONtv provides audiences access to thousands of hours of content showcasing an eclectic catalog with hundreds of must-watch favorites; from elusive cult films and television shows, to celebrated genre movies encompassing sci-fi, horror, fantasy, anime, grindhouse, and martial arts action.

CONtv’s offerings include Kung Fu fantasy, Immortal Demon Slayer, fan-favorite anime series Digimon Adventure, alien time travel epic Kung Fu Traveler, Anarchy in the UT drama Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2, and beloved cult classics like Elvira: Mistress Of The DarkReturn Of The Killer Tomatoes, and Hellraiser.

Cinedigm Narrows Q1 Loss, Ups DVD/Blu-ray Disc Billing 65%

Home entertainment distributor Cinedigm Aug. 14 announced a first-quarter (ended June 30) net loss of $3.4 million, down 35% from a net loss of $5.2 million during the previous-year period. Revenue declined 14% to $13.1 million from $15.2 million during the previous-year period.

The revenue decrease was partially offset by a 9% increase in content and entertainment revenue, which includes sales of packaged media such as DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Cinedigm Entertainment Group closed a multi-year, multi-title distribution agreement with Nelvana, a Canadian animation company and global producer of children’s content. The agreement includes DVD and transactional VOD content rights to more than 3,000 television episodes featuring worldwide brands such as Franklin, Babar and Beyblade.

Indeed, DVD/Blu-ray Disc billings increased 65% in the quarter from the previous-year period, while digital billings increased 30%. Total over-the top video revenue (which includes Docurama, Dove Channel and CONtv) reached $2.2 million on 91,000 subscribers – the latter up 7% from last year.

“Despite the first fiscal quarter being a seasonally slow period for our business, our results clearly illustrate the progress we are making in the transformation of our business,” CFO Jeffrey Edell said in a statement.

CEO Chris McGurk said the company made three industry presentations at the Beijing Film Festival, in addition to announcing six new entertainment partnerships.

Cinedigm is majority owned by Bison Capital, a Chinese owned and Hong Kong-based investment company focusing on media and entertainment, healthcare and financial service industries.

“We made significant progress in our streaming OTT segment, where we generate sales through four revenue streams: subscription fees, advertising, servicing retainers and content distribution fees,” said McGurk. “We are encouraged by our progress as we continue to lead the way in this huge, fast-growing, high margin segment with a differentiated OTT business model.”

 

Cinedigm Inches Toward First Quarterly Profit

After myriad quarters of fiscal losses, home entertainment distributor and over-the-top video operator Cinedigm reported its first quarterly profit.

The distributor generated first-quarter (ended March 31) income of $46,000 on revenue of $17.6 million. That compared to a loss of $9.6 million and revenue of $19.5 million during the previous-year period.

Cinedigm said its content and entertainment business unit – which includes packaged media – decreased revenue 12% to $31.1 million from $34.2 million in fiscal 2018 during the previous-year period.

The company said the revenue decline was due to lower overall sales volumes for physical product and a change in the mix of content sold.

“Our traditional DVD and Blu-ray Disc business continues to be negatively impacted by changing consumer behaviors and digital market shift to more original productions has lowered demand for third party content,” Cinedigm said in a regulatory filing. “Our product mix has also shifted significantly toward licensed content in the current year.”

The decline in physical product sales was partially offset by a $700,000 increase in sales related to OTT channels (Dove Channel, Docurama and CONtv) and a slight increase in distribution related revenue.

“We plan on [OTT] becoming the biggest revenue contributor for the company, and [it] increased last year by 23% in aggregate, led by a 36% increase in OTT channel,” CFO Jeffrey Edell said on the fiscal call.

Meanwhile, net loss for the fiscal year increased 21.7% to $18.5 million from $15.5 million during the previous-year period. Revenue dropped 25% to $67.6 million from $90.3 million.

 

Docurama Adds Cargo Film & Releasing Content, Support and a Subscription Fee

Cinedigm’s ad-supported Docurama over-the-top video service June 14 announced a programming and marketing partnership with Cargo Film & Releasing.

The company signed a pact with David Piperni, founder of New York-based Cargo, which specializes in acquiring non-fiction features. Under the agreement, Piperni will be responsible for acquiring programming for Docurama, and curating the channel’s content library.

Piperni and his staff will handle many aspects of marketing for the channel, from day-to-day social media engagement and direct-to-consumer campaigns, to building strategies to capitalize on audience trends.

Cargo will also identify projects, producers, and talent who fit the brand of the channel, creating opportunities for producing original content such as behind-the-scenes exclusives and first-hand interviews associated with respective documentaries.

“This is [Cargo’s] specialty — they know what works,” Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “They have rich industry relationships with top producers and talent, and they understand what audiences are looking for. Their expertise and insight [are] truly an invaluable part of Docurama’s expansion.”

As a result, the four-year-old channel will now include premium programming for an undisclosed subscription fee by the end of the month.

Docurama’s library features hundreds of feature films, shorts, and series, as well as interviews and film festival coverage.

Programming includes Patti Smith memoir, “Patti Smith: Dream of Life”, eight-part presidential event, “JFK – A New World Order”;sports fan profile “Losing Lebron”; Orca adventure “The Whale”, narrated by Ryan Reynolds; hip hop culture documentary “Style Wars”, and exposé, “They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain.”

“Cargo is dedicated to discovering cutting-edge films from all over the world and this new partnership allows us to bring these offerings to a whole new audience,” said Piperni.

 

Cinedigm Bowing Female-Centric SVOD Service

Cinedigm is launching what it claims is the first-ever women’s lifestyle subscription video-on-demand service (SVOD). The platform is expected to launch in the fourth quarter with distribution plans for Web and mobile, including both iOS and Android platforms.

Cinedigm is partnering with Gatherer Entertainment, an entertainment hub dedicated to providing women in the 35-54 demo with curated content.

The channel will offer one-stop-shop of content touching all aspects of a woman’s life, with topics ranging from news, beauty and fashion, to midlife women’s health and wellness tips, food, wine and cooking profiles, financial insights and planning, crafty DIY, technology updates, travel expeditions, and everything in between.

Original scripted content will feature episodes with breaks perfectly suited to fit viewers’ fast-paced lifestyles, while unscripted series will present news and information uninterrupted in two-minute formats, hosted by reliable, experienced, relatable women.

Launched by CEO Jenna Segal in 2017, Gatherer Entertainment spent a year researching viewing patterns and listening to women discuss how, where and when they watch video content. With increasingly busy schedules, balancing lives both at home and in the workplace, women 35+ are leading the OTT charge, eschewing cable and satellite in favor of regularly streaming their favorite shows, according to Cinedigm.

Segal’s credits include producing Broadway show GIGI and off- Broadway production, What We’re Up Against, as well as Web series, “Black Dynamite,” and “Lady Parts.” Segal previously served as director of production management at Viacom, working with MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Nicktoons.

Gatherer’s management team also includes co-founder and CMO Heidi Packer Eskenazi, founder of boutique firm HAP Consulting; and head of strategy and operations, Eric Sherman.

“Jenna and Heidi are smart, passionate leaders with a fantastic vision for building a content-centric community, and we look forward to helping them bring it to fruition,” Erick Opeka, EVP of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

This latest OTT venture marks Cinedigm’s ninth video channel. The home entertainment distributor currently operates martial arts platform Combat Go, Docurama, CONtv, eSports lifestyle network WHAM, Asian music and pop culture service, HallyPop, a Chinese entertainment channel, and family-focused Dove Channel and DoveKids.

 

Cinedigm Distributing OTT Channels on Vewd

Cinedigm Jan. 9 announced it will distribute subscription streaming channels (Dove Channel, CONtv, Docurama) through the Vewd App Store.

Vewd is OTT software with an install base of over 200 million devices, featuring over 1,500 entertaining apps optimized for Smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and set-top boxes from Samsung, Sony, Verizon and TiVo, among others.

To date, values-based Dove Channel, Comic-Con-themed CONtv and documentary-based Docurama have over 2.5 Million App downloads.

“Vewd’s extensive global footprint with dozens of key manufacturers helps us reach millions of devices quickly, efficiently, and easily,” Erick Opeka, EVP and GM of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

The deal comes as Los Angeles-based Cinedigm expanded OTT offerings to Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast and Android TV.

These developments will expand the reach of Cinedigm channels to more than 320 million potential consumers in key OTT markets worldwide.

“Cinedigm has tailored their content to different audiences, introducing unique channels that focus on the strengths of their catalog. Together, we can bring significant scale and reach to these channels on a global basis,” said Daniel Nordberg, SVP of partnerships at Vewd.