EMA Announces Details for Concurrent LAES and OTT_X Conferences

The Entertainment Merchants Association will present two conferences — the Los Angeles Entertainment Summit (LAES) and the OTT_X conference — on July 16 at the Universal Hilton in Universal City, Calif.

The two conferences will address different aspects of the entertainment industry, according to the EMA. The LAES will examine the overall digital home entertainment marketplace, while the OTT_X conference, chaired by Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, will look at the over-the-top sector, including subscription and ad-supported VOD.

On July 17 conference attendees can participate in industry roundtables and discussions.

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Registrants for one conference can attend the other at no additional cost, and all attendees will be admitted to the opening night cocktail party from 6:30-8:30 p.m. July 16.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. July 16.

Opening remarks for the OTT_X conference begin at 9 a.m. followed by a research presentation at 9:15 a.m.; panels on monetization of OTT and windowing to enhance value and revenue; and a “Fireside Keynote” on AVOD.

Opening remarks for the LAES begin at 2 p.m., followed by a consumer panel, research presentation and keynote speaker to be determined.

Roundtables and workshops on July 17 include deep dives on conference research presentations, the EMA Retailing Council (EMA members only), supply chain, and OTT.

To register for the LAES, click here.

To register for the OTT_X conference, click here.

Cinedigm Acquiring AVOD Platform ‘Future Today’ for $60 Million

Cinedigm March 15 announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Future Today, one of the largest ad-supported VOD networks, for $45 million in cash and $15 million in Cinedigm common stock.

The acquisition increases Cinedigm’s over-the-top video footprint to over 7.6 million monthly active users and 67 million total app installs.

The Los Angeles-based home entertainment distributor said Future Today, which owns and operates more than 700 content channels with more than 60 million app installs, and manages more than 200,000 film, television and digital content assets,generated about $23.9 million in revenue in 2018.

Future Today brands include Fawesome.tv, focused on general entertainment movies & television shows, and HappyKids.tv, providing age-specific edutainment in the connected TV market.

Alok Ranjan and Vikrant Mathur, co-founders of Future Today, will continue to lead the subsidiary as co-presidents, entering into long-term employment agreements with Cinedigm upon the deal closing.

“Building our stake in the rapidly surging AVOD business is a top priority for Cinedigm, and the acquisition instantaneously transforms our company into the world’s largest provider of premium [ad-supported] content,” Chris McGurk, chairman/CEO of Cinedigm said in a statement.

Future Today’s cloud-based technology and ad-based monetization platform manages OTT services for more than 350 content owners, producers, distributors and major media companies helping them launch and monetize connected TV channels across all devices.

“Alok and Vikrant have built Future Today into one of the most respected and fastest growing companies monetizing video content today,” said Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks. “Their entrepreneurial spirit and deep knowledge of the video ad space, combined with Cinedigm’s content and relationships, will be a formidable and compelling combination in the rapidly growing AVOD segment.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second calendar quarter of 2019 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Cinedigm Closes Acquisition of Viewster and Subsidiary Viewster Anime

Cinedigm Feb. 5 announced the acquisition of video-on-demand service Viewster and its subsidiary Viewster Anime, in a deal that bolsters Cinedigm’s extensive OTT content portfolio.

The Los Angeles-based home entertainment distributor immediately takes over ownership and management of all Viewster and Viewster Anime content, augmenting the platforms’ roster of offerings into Cinedigm’s library of channels and content, with select programming debuting on the latter’s lifestyle network CONtv.

Cinedigm will also overseeing operation of all content, applications and social assets belonging to both platforms. Ad sales will be handled in-house and through Cinedigm’s network of partners.

Viewster Anime will continue to exist as a subscription channel on Amazon Channels as well as on The Roku Channel. Cinedigm also plans to bring ad-supported, linear and subscription offerings of Viewster to additional OEM, cable, telco and digital partners over the next several quarters.

“Viewster and Viewster Anime are perfect complements to our growing base of premium content networks,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “The acquisition of Viewster strengthens our market position in the fandom space, dramatically increases our global footprint, and greatly accelerates our plans to grow our ad-supported businesses.”

Founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 2007, Viewster has emerged as a competitive force in the global VOD industry — delivering digital content, and establishing a branded presence in more than 30 international markets, a combined 256,000 subscribers across YouTube and Amazon Prime Video, as well as more than 1.1 million monthly active viewers globally.

The acquisition expands Cinedigm’s OTT video customer base, which achieved over 370% year-over-year growth in ad-supported user base across linear and ad-supported VOD platforms in 2018 alone.

Cinedigm will continue to distribute Viewster Anime as a standalone brand, featuring films and series from Japan.

Acquired content includes movies such as Jin-Roh: The Wolf BrigadeFist Of The North Star, and Galaxy Express 999, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie and Night On The Galactic Railroad, as well as series such as “Street Fighter II: The Animated Series,” “Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact!,” “Gunslinger Girl,” “GATE,” and “Food Wars,” among many others.

 

Cinedigm OTT Video Channels Top 102,000 Subscribers, 2.4M AVOD Viewers

Home entertainment distributor Cinedigm announced several milestones for its portfolio of over-the-top video services – including an estimated 2.4 million monthly active ad-supported viewers and 102,000 active subscribers.

The Los Angeles-based distributor’s OTT channels, which include Dove Channel, CONtv, Docurama, CombatGo and Wham Network, offer nearly 12,000 hours of movie, television and live entertainment.

Pending services include Korean, Chinese and South East Asian pop culture network HallyPop and Bambu, offering Chinese action movies, serial dramas, romantic comedies, sci-fi, horror, as well as music and reality series to American audiences.

Cinedigm said it facilitated channel launches across 10 new distribution partners over the last two quarters, including Dish Network, Sling TV, Comcast Xfinity, Samsung TV Plus, Xumo, Pluto TV, Sinclair’s Stirr, Vizio Watch Free TV, and The Roku Channel, representing a total base of more than 126 million customers and devices.

“Our accomplishments in the last few months demonstrate Cinedigm’s vision of effectively delivering premium OTT entertainment content globally, no matter the device or business model,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement.

Opeka said the company would continue to focus on launching new channels, investing in technology, growing the user base, monetizing ad-supported offerings and expanding its footprint of addressable devices.

Indeed, Cinedigm OTT services achieved 370% year-over-year growth in ad-supported user base across linear and ad-supported VOD platforms. Achieved over 205% quarter-over-quarter growth in connected television ad-requests. Grew content library by 6,200 film and television assets – more than 116% year-over-year.

Grew total social media footprint to 857,000 followers across YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Cinedigm also acquired ComicBlitz, a subscription digital comic service, and announced the acquisition of Viewster, a pop-culture ad-supported streaming service. These acquisitions add more than 7,100 movie, television and digital publishing assets from more than 70 content partners.

It launched Matchpoint, an OTT platform and application framework that speeds time to market, while reducing the total operating expense for channel operators and content distributors.

 

Cinedigm Partners with Samsung for OTT Video Services

Cinedigm Dec. 18 announced a partnership with Samsung to give viewers access to the home entertainment distributor’s over-the-top video platforms — fandom-dedicated CONtv and the family friendly faith-based Dove Channel — available on Samsung’s TV Plus video service.

TV Plus is Samsung’s owned and operated video service, which provides access to a variety of free streaming channels covering sports, lifestyle, and related third-party content on select Samsung TVs.

It does not require a subscription fee, account set-up, or credit card info to access. CONtv and the Dove Channel – which do require separate subscriptions – are currently available on 2017 and 2018 Samsung Smart TV models, and will be rolling out to more in the future.

CONtv offers access to thousands of hours of content showcasing an eclectic catalog of must-watch favorites featuring quintessential cult films, and classic television shows, spanning a wide array of genres including sci-fi, horror, fantasy, anime, grindhouse, and martial arts.

Dove Channel offers viewers a large library of high-quality values-based films, children’s programs, documentaries, and series. All content featured on Dove Channel meets the standards of The Dove Foundation and its esteemed Faith & Family Dove Seals of Approval — serving as an invaluable resource for families across the country for over 27 years.

“Samsung is the top television brand on the market today,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Cinedigm is proud to partner with them to bring two of our most popular digital-first networks to their users on their convenient TV Plus service.”

 

 

Cinedigm OTT Channels Launch on Tubi TV

Cinedigm Nov. 20 announced the launch of three of its three over-the-top video channels – Dove Channel, Docurama and CONtv – on ad-supported Tubi TV.

Martial arts network Combat Go – which features curated content selected by martial arts experts, featuring in-depth fight commentary and analysis, original docuseries, and martial arts movies – will follow at a later date.

Cinedigm said Tubi’s recommendation software will help users find personalized content discovery based on channel preference, and help viewers find new, relevant brands.

Users who prefer a certain brand’s content can then explore all of its titles and TV shows on each channel’s dedicated landing page. Viewers will be able to locate Cinedigm networks via the Tubi homepage and will have the ability to explore the extensive library of films, series, events, and original programming that each of Cinedigm’s digital-first channels have to offer.

“Cinedigm is proud to kick start our partnership with Tubi by bringing some of our most popular channels to the rapidly growing service,” Erick Opeka, president of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Tubi users will be able to enjoy all the exclusive content that only CONtv, Dove, Docurama, and Combat Go have to offer — from family-friendly favorites and insightful documentaries, to cult classics, hard-hitting sporting events, and everything in-between — available when and how they want it, conveniently located in one dynamic platform.”

 

Cinedigm Video Gaming Streaming Service Lands on Pluto TV

Cinedigm Oct. 23 announced that its e-sports digital network, Wham, is now streaming on the online television service Pluto TV.

Launched in April, Wham covers all aspects of the gaming industry, from e-sports to casual gaming. The channel’s offerings include original series, teams competing in e-sports tournaments, and coverage of live special gaming events, as well as updates on the genre’s news.

“Pluto TV’s dynamic platform is the perfect complement to Cinedigm’s mission to redefine the traditional viewing experience,” Erick Opeka, president of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement.

Pluto TV is an ad-supported online television service with more than 100 live and linear channels, in addition to movies and television series on-demand. As part of this deal, Pluto TV users will now be able to access Cinedigm content as linear networks across all streaming, mobile and web-based devices.

“We are excited to welcome Cinedigm, a veteran industry leader in digital entertainment, to Pluto TV,” said Amy Kuessner, SVP, content acquisitions, Pluto TV. “WHAM is the perfect addition to our channel lineup, as a trusted source and voice with an insider’s view and an exciting slate of programming looking at the fast-paced world of e-sports and gaming.”

 

Seventh Annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit Opens Tomorrow

The seventh annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit opens tomorrow (Tuesday, July 16) with a focus on independent product, both physical and digital, as well as the booming OTT marketplace.

The trade show, produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), runs for two days at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, Calif.

The 2018 Los Angeles Entertainment Summit is centered on one-on-one business meetings between independent content providers and retailers and streaming services, the EMA said back in May, when the event’s dates were announced.

The summit also features the  first-ever OTT Channels conference – a day of research presentations, sessions with industry thought leaders, and an exploration of opportunities in subscription video on demand and ad-supported video on demand.

LAES continues to provide an opportunity for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) to raise funds.

The event opens July 17 with a morning welcome session, featuring a CFF update from LAES co-chair Mark Horak and an EMA update from Mark Fisher, the association’s president and CEO.

Then comes a research super-session moderated by Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold, featuring research presentations by GfK Entertainment, IHS Markit, Nielsen and the NPD Group.

Next is a spotlight presentation from Tobias Queesser, cofounder of Cinelytic.

Bill Sondheim, president of the Cinedigm Entertainment Group, will deliver the keynote address at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Independent Studio Home Entertainment Awards.

The OTT Channels conference will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a lineup of speakers and panelists assembled by conference chair Erick Opeka, EVP of digital networks at Cinedigm Corp.

And from 4 to 6 p.m., the Digital EMA Forum will bring together digital retailers, studios, independent content providers, and service providers to hear the latest research on digital home entertainment and discover how retailers and content providers are streamlining the digital supply chain through common practices.

The day ends with a cocktail party sponsored by FandangoNOW.

Day two of LAES, Wednesday, July 18, is devoted to business meetings and a networking lunch.