Fandor Streaming Service Now on Philo Through New Deal With Cineverse

Cineverse Aug. 14 announced it has licensed its Fandor indie movie streaming service to online TV provider Philo. Subscribers of Philo’s “Movies & More” package can add Fandor for an additional $3 monthly fee.

Fandor offers new releases from the indie film festival circuit and a curatorial eye toward film history. The streamer joins a Philo line-up that includes FMC, Reelz, and Sony Movies.

“The addition of Fandor provides a greater array of choices to Philo’s “Movies & More” add-on package, ensuring consumers will have the opportunity to explore both new and beloved favorites, available for viewing on demand,” David Chu, EVP & GM, Cineverse Networks, said in a statement.

Cineverse also recently launched three free ad-supported streaming TV channels (FAST) on Philo – Comedy Dynamics, ScreamBox TV and The Bob Ross Channel. Reality lifestyle channel, “So…Real,” is expected to launch in the coming months.

Cinedigm Gains North American Rights to Music Comedy ‘Country Gold’

Cinedigm has acquired the surrealist country music comedy Country Gold for North American distribution.

The film from Oklahoma-based writer-director Mickey Reece (Agnes, Climate of the Hunter) satirizes American celebrity as it captures fictional two music legends at a career crossroads, as up-and-coming country music star Troyal Brux (portrayed by Reece himself in Garth Brooks-inspired attire) meets Country legend George Jones (Ben Hall) in 1994. Together, they embark on a wild night in Nashville — before George plans to cryogenically freeze himself.

Following a limited theatrical release in March, Cinedigm will offer the film exclusively via its indie discovery platform Fandor beginning April 4.

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A spiritual follow-up to Reece’s award-winning Elvis biopic Alien, Country Gold was an official selection of Fantastic Fest, the Fantasia International Film Festival, and the Glasgow Film Festival. The film was co-written by Reece and his frequent collaborator John Selvidge.

“I wanted to explore a seminal moment in American music history,” Reece said in a statement. “Not to belabor the facts, but to rather play with some icons of this particular era and let their vibes take the audience to surprising places. I’m thrilled to release the film with Cinedigm, and have the story of this strange night in Nashville join the excellent catalog that they have been cultivating on Fandor.”

“If it wasn’t obvious by now, the Fandor team loves unique, left-field comedies like Country Gold,” Aaron Hillis, director of programming for Cinedigm, said in a statement. “I may be more of a rock-and-roll guy, but having followed Mickey Reece’s undeniably inventive career for a few years, I’ll go full honkytonk for whatever he cooks up.”

Country Gold was produced by Kassie Gann (Chicken House) in association with executive producers Peter Kuplowsky, Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness programmer, and Zac Locke for The Straits. Locke negotiated the deal with Cinedigm’s director of acquisitions Brandon Hill.

Cinedigm Bows Fandor Streaming Service on The Roku Channel

Cinedigm May 9 announced that indie movie streaming platform Fandor is now available to subscribe to through The Roku Channel. Fandor is replacing Fandor Spotlight, which was previously available as a premium subscription on The Roku Channel.

Existing Fandor Spotlight subscribers will receive access to the new Fandor service, which includes a new look and new exclusive premieres. The re-launch marks a major milestone for the revamped Fandor, as The Roku Channel reached U.S. households with an estimated 80 million people in Q4 2021.

Fandor boasts a library of more than 1,000 hours of films and series in dozens of genres, including comedy, drama, film noir, and science fiction to rare gems including creature-feature, Pre-Code, avant-garde and grindhouse.

Originally launched in 2011, Fandor has served as a pioneer in the elevation of independent film through its streaming platform as well as through written and video editorial pieces dedicated to the art of cinema. The streaming service is refreshed monthly with films and series, including the documentary Coming Clean, focusing on the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S.; the music doc The Sound of Scars, which follows the rise and fall of the trailblazing hard rock group Life of Agony; and the festival darling Moon Rock for Monday set to exclusively premiere on Fandor May 24.

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“With the channel’s new look and enhanced content selection, we aim to elevate the art of cinema and the voices within its community,” Philip Hopkins, president of Fandor, said in a statement. “The last few years have seen tremendous growth in independent film consumption, and we look forward to giving fellow movie lovers Fandor premieres each month.”

Cinedigm previously launched Screambox, The Dove Channel, CONtv and Docurama on The Roku Channel.

Cinedigm Updating Fandor Streaming Platform, Editorial Analysis

Cinedigm Oct. 4 announced it is taking steps to evolve its recently acquired streaming service Fandor. The new-look will come with a wider footprint, hundreds of new acquisitions and third-party editorial analysis.

Fandor subscribers will have access to more than a thousand hours of independent titles, including exclusive acquisitions from international film festivals and titles from existing partners and key providers. The updated platform features a new design and intuitive user-experience.

“With over a decade of experience in streaming independent cinema, we are proud to bring new life to a service so dedicated to independent filmmakers and the incredible films they create,” Phil Hopkins, president of Fandor, said in a statement.

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Originally launched at the South by Southwest film festival in 2011, Fandor has served as a pioneer in the elevation of independent film, both through its streaming platform as well as through written and video editorial pieces.

Launching alongside the rebooted Fandor service will be “Keyframe,” Fandor’s digital editorial publication featuring written and video exploration of independent cinema. Composed of articles, interviews, reviews, and video essays, Keyframe aims to serve as a community for filmmakers, writers, and film enthusiasts featuring editorial deep dives and tributes, such as a recent celebration of the work of director Werner Herzog, as well as monthly hand-picked featured playlists available on the Fandor service.

In addition, the Fandor Festival Podcast seeks to explore the best of independent film festivals, hosted by former Fandor executive Chris Kelly and morning radio personality Hooman Khalili, and featuring producer Bryn Nguyen. Guests include filmmakers, film festival founders, and industry leaders with engaging insights on festival films, available on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts and Simplecast.

“The last five years have seen accelerated access to content across the streaming spectrum. Yet even with all these choices, much of independent cinema has been left behind and cinephiles often have difficulty finding films of interest on massive streaming platforms,” Erick Opeka, president and chief strategy officer at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Fandor has been a pioneer in this space and offers a haven for Cinephiles looking for deep and meaningful titles that made them fall in love with films in the first place.”

The updated Fandor streaming service will be available on iOS and Android mobile devices, web, and Roku, with ad-free access to the entire Fandor library for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. Free, ad-supported access to select titles from the Fandor library will also be available at launch and new platforms will roll out over the rest of the year.

Cinedigm Partners With Exeest for Fandor Film Submission Portal for Independent Filmmakers

Cinedigm July 28 said it would partner with Exeest, an online entertainment marketplace, to support a film submission platform for Fandor and its portfolio of channels. The platform aims to streamline the film submission process for independent filmmakers, provide Fandor’s programming team a way to solicit, screen and evaluate film content suitable for streaming viewers.

Exeest’s data-driven streaming service-like platform aims to modernize the search, discovery, acquisition and selling of video content. The curated one-stop shop for buyers and sellers provides a user experience platform and a centralized digital hub giving buyers and sellers a single place to oversee content from browsing libraries and making offers to content management and distribution.

Once selected by Fandor, independent filmmakers receive access to Exeest’s cloud native sales asset management system and are evaluated for entry into Exeest’s business-to-business streaming marketplace, which facilitates worldwide distribution.

The new Fandor platform will expand the exposure and reach of independent filmmakers by making their content more efficiently discoverable while enabling monetization across Cinedigm’s network of OTT distribution partners.

Cinedigm acquired Fandor in 2021. With its global library of more than 4,600 films from more than 400 global and diverse film companies, Fandor has seen rapid subscriber growth since being acquired, according to Cinedigm.

New arrivals on Fandor include multiple award-winning movies and well-known titles from The Film Detective and Docurama, two Cinedigm streaming services. The Los Angeles-based distributor plans to add hundreds of additional titles to Fandor in the coming months, including new restorations from the newly acquired Films Around the World library.

“Cinedigm continues to embrace new technology as part of our goal to exceed the needs of our content partners as well as to provide the best user experience to our audiences,” Tony Huidor, chief technology & product officer at Cinedigm, said in a statement.

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 Acquires Fandor Streaming Service

Cinedigm has acquired Fandor, a subscription streaming service for independent films, documentaries and international features.

Fandor has a catalog of more than 4,600 film titles from more than 400 film companies.

Cinedigm plans to leverage its content library, technology, engineering and distribution capabilities to rapidly expand Fandor’s content offering, relaunch the service’s apps and dramatically expand distribution to Cinedigm’s global footprint of more than 900 million connected devices, according to a press release.

Cinedigm will continue to offer the service (currently at $5.99 per month) ad-free, but also plans to offer a free, ad-supported on-demand tier as well as a linear streaming channel.

Cinedigm plans to draw from a pool of more than 7,000 relevant film titles in its library, including thousands of classic, cult and foreign titles from streaming service The Film Detective, which it acquired in December 2020, according to the release.

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Cinedigm also plans to relaunch Keyframe, Fandor’s web and video-based publication dedicated to covering the art of cinema.

Phil Hopkins, president of Cinedigm’s Film Detective division, will oversee Fandor and Keyframe, with the goal of relaunching the service in the coming quarter.

“This acquisition of Fandor, coming on the heels of our Film Detective acquisition, solidifies Cinedigm’s position as the leading global streaming company for independent films,” Chris McGurk, Cinedigm chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “As a key element of our recently announced streaming rollup strategy, Fandor will immediately benefit from our streaming distribution muscle, huge library of independent films, Matchpoint technology, cost savings and infrastructure and synergies with our wide portfolio of enthusiast streaming channels. We fully expect an immediate EBITDA uplift from Fandor and strong revenue and profit growth going forward.”

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“The paradox of the streaming revolution is that it has never been harder to discover classic, essential and new independent and foreign films,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer and president of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement. “The founders of Fandor had the right idea, launching very early in the streaming growth cycle while still establishing a strong and resilient brand and viewer base. Our mission at Cinedigm is to enable viewers, including independent film enthusiasts, to stream their passions, and I can’t think of a streaming service that is truer to our mission than Fandor.”

“The opportunity to leverage Fandor’s passionate community of independent film enthusiasts will be integral in the service’s growth,” Phil Hopkins, president of the Film Detective, said in a statement. “Being able to communicate and collaborate with this community of content creators, bloggers, and editorial writers will allow us to significantly expand Fandor into the global focal point for streaming independent films, documentaries, classics and foreign films.”

Gravitas Ventures Launches Indie Film SVOD Service

Gravitas Ventures has bowed a subscription-based over-the-top video service – dubbed GravitasMovies.com – offering its branded slate of indie films for $4.99 a month.

The service aims to fill the void left by WarnerMedia’s shuttered FilmStruck platform, in addition to competing services such as Fandor.com, Shout! Factory TV, Shudder, Tribeca Shortlist and Le Cinema Club, among other services catering to fans of eclectic content.

GravitasMovies.com launched with about 1,000 titles available on Comcast Cable’s Xfinity X1, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, among other Android and iOS devices.

“At Gravitas we have always taken pride in being a distributor that can connect the artist and the consumer,” Michael Murphy, president of the 13-year-old distributor, said in a statement. “By launching our SVOD service, we are taking the next step in bringing our vast young library of films to a global audience.”

Gravitas was acquired in 2017 by Red Arrow Studios – a unit of Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 Media.

“Given the volume, diversity of programming, and refresh rate, we have one of the best value propositions in the marketplace today for fans of independent films and documentaries and plan to keep the offering fresh and new for years to come,” said Murphy.

 

Summit Explores OTT’s Promise and Pitfalls

The opportunities and pitfalls of the over-the-top market were the leading subjects of the OTT & Video Distribution Summit taking place Aug. 2 in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Consumers are cutting the cord with their cable companies and moving to OTT because of its superior value, including better choice and lower cost.

“Consumers have basically said, ‘We’re paying too much. I don’t want to watch all those channels,’” said panelist Mickey Alpert, president and CEO, Merisco Solutions, and former EVP at Cablevision.

“Cable companies are literally the most hated companies in America,” said keynote speaker Jeff Binder, EVP, home and entertainment, T-Mobile U.S., because they are regional monopolies and don’t have to cater to customers.

In addition to OTT services peeling away video subscribers, another threat to cable is the coming 5G technology, which will be a “game-changing technology,” he said. Cable companies that have been able to lean on broadband fees, even as cord cutters have eschewed buying a video subscription, may find customers can get rid of broadband with 5G.

“There are changes around connectivity that are coming that are probably a bigger story in some ways I think than the story about how the content industry is changing,” Binder said.

“4G changed the way all of you use your phone; 5G is going to change the way all of us use our home as well as our phone,” he said.

For now, though, it’s the chance to get the content they want at a lower price that is drawing consumers to OTT services.

“Customers value choice and flexibility,” said panelist Kathy Payne, head of content acquisition management, Amazon Channels. “At Amazon, we’ve decided we’d like to offer channels a la carte.”

Amazon Channels aggregates such OTT subscription services as HBO, Showtime and Starz. There are more than 150 channels offered in the United States, Payne said, not to mention the hundreds available internationally.

“We’ve heard from customers loud and clear that they like the option to just buy channels a la carte,” she said. “It’s really easy to come in and pick what they want.”

In addition to a la carte there are bundled OTT services that are making a go of it, such as Philo, which started in colleges. “It’s a TV package that hasn’t really been available before. [It’s a service] without paying this huge amount for sports,” noted keynoter Andrew McCollum, Philo CEO.

There are also ad-supported services that offer programming to consumers for free. Roku Channel has aggregated some of those. Roku’s Seth Walters, VP, demand partnerships, called it “our sandbox for creating our most premium ad-supported service on Roku.”

Making a go of it as a new OTT service is a challenge. The number of domestic OTT services has reached more than 200, with the three top players dominating, noted Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates.

“It’s Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and everybody else,” he said, adding there is a second tier of services, such as HBO, Showtime, Starz and CBS, that range from 1 million to 5 million subscribers.

A smaller service must differentiate itself and appeal to a niche, rather than try to compete with the big pocketed broad services offered by Netflix and others, he said.

“If you cannot specifically identify who your customers are then you’re probably not going to be successful,” he said.

Offering exclusive or new content helps, as consumers rank new release or original content as most important, according to Parks research.

Many OTT services overlook marketing, and that’s a mistake, Sappington said. Startups “don’t realize the marketing costs involved,” he said.

He praised the marketing efforts of independent film streaming service Fandor, mentioned in a panel at the summit. Panelist Felice Oper, COO of Fandor, said they had sold 290,000 subscriptions through a Costco bundle with subscription theater ticket service MoviePass in just two and a half months.

“It was a very successful transaction,” Oper said. “We’re still working with Costco.”

Keynoter Darcy Antonellis, of Amdocs-owned Vubiquity, talked about the international reach of the OTT business and the services her company supplies it, noting her team is often on a plane.

“We all have to be thinking global,” she said.

“It’s all about understanding where the audiences are,” she added. “It’s an on-demand world, but it has to be in a form and a language for a particular culture.”

She offered an anecdote about a viewing spike at 3 p.m. that they found involved parents waiting for their kids to get out of school. She said the industry must start to understand how to service consumers when and where they need entertainment.

A prominent woman in the industry, she also addressed the dearth of women in the entertainment and technology business. Having mentored girls 8-13, she noticed, “You could almost set your watch, because of peer pressure, when they were gonna shut off STEM [science, technology, engineering and math].”

“It’s a real challenge for our country,” she said. “You don’t want any room as smart as one brain, and you don’t want any room as smart as a collection of similar brains.”

Fandor Movie Streaming Service Names New Executive Positions

Movie subscription streaming service Fandor has upped Felice Oper to the chief operating officer position. Oper, who previously served as general counsel and chief distribution officer, will continue as general counsel.

As COO, Oper assumes oversight of the programming and marketing groups, as well as the product and engineering teams.

Separately, Fandor named TS Ramakrishnan to the chief product engineering officer position. He previously headed engineering for Yahoo! Messenger and mobile, and was VP of product engineering at Facebook.

Under Oper’s leadership, Fandor’s subscription base has grown more than 10 times, underscored by OTT partnerships with Amazon Channels, Sling TV, CenturyLink Stream and YouTube Red.

She engineered alliances with MoviePass and Costco, launching the sale of the “Movie Lover’s Package” both on Costco.com and MoviePass.com. Fandor launches on Vizio TVs this spring.

“Felice has proven she is committed to helping Fandor reach new heights in the OTT space,” CEO Larry Aidem said in a statement. “Her exemplary knowledge and dedication … continue to support the growth and development of partnerships that makes movie selections more accessible to our customers.”

Aidem said Ramakrishna would help expand movie and editorial content to subs, which in turn affords Fandor the opportunity to grow the brand.

“[TS’] breadth of experience in Silicon Valley and the digital space will enable Fandor to further develop the company’s user experience, enabling us to further grow the Fandor community,” added Oper.