AXS TV Greenlights Investigative Doc-Series ‘Music’s Greatest Mysteries’

Was Elvis Presley a government informant? Is Avril Lavigne really dead? A new online TV series aims to find out. AXS TV has greenlighted documentary series “Music’s Greatest Mysteries,” which claims to shine a light on the unique and enigmatic stories that shaped the history of music. The series is in production and is slated to debut in the fourth quarter of this year.

Spanning a wide variety of eras and genres — from Hip Hop and Rockabilly, to Country and Grunge — the series investigates the infamous myths and larger-than-life personalities, which have come to define the music industry throughout the decades.

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The series presents a fresh perspective on stories both well known and slightly more obscure, unearthing hidden gems and long-forgotten lore with the help of music icons and noted experts. Blending commentary with archive footage, the series features six episodes in its inaugural season, searching for the answers to intriguing questions such as: “Why did Michael Jackson and Prince feud?,” “The conspiracies of backmasking,” “The myths of  KISS” and “Friends in Low Places,” among other topics.

Not only are the series’ themes meshed in history, but so are the interview locations. Music venues such as The Bluebird Café in Nashville and Antone’s in Austin, Texas, will be woven into the stories.

“[The series] promises to reveal new tales to even the most seasoned music fans,” Sarah Weidman, head of original programming, development and multi-platform content for AXS TV, said in a statement.

Formerly owned by Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” veteran Mark Cuban, AXS TV was acquired last year by Anthem Sports and Entertainment. The deal also included HDNet Movies Networks.

“Music’s Greatest Mysteries” is jointly produced by Texas Crew Productions and Hideout Pictures, with Chip Rives, David Karabinas, Brad Bernstein, Shannon Houchins and Trevor O’Neil serving as executive producers.

Anthem Sports & Entertainment Inks Original Content Deal With iHeartMedia

Anthem Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates streaming platforms targeting niche audiences, March 9 announced an original content partnership with audio company iHeartMedia.

Under the multiyear agreement, the companies will collaborate on the co-production of original programming and on the marketing of Anthem’s properties across iHeartMedia’s multi-platform audio network and largest radio broadcaster in the country.

Anthem, which acquired a majority interest in Mark Cuban’s AXS TV in 2019, becomes partners with remaining shareholder Anschutz Entertainment Group while bringing Steve Harvey Global into the company as an investor and advisor on content development.

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Anthem recently announced it had become an investor in PlayersTV, the sports lifestyle digital network being launched by Players Media Group.

“We continue to build key strategic partnerships that expand our reach,” CEO Len Asper said in a statement. “Our new partnership with iHeartMedia gives us access to its quarter of a billion monthly listeners, reaching 9 out of 10 Americans each month through its national network of local radio stations and its ubiquitous digital app, live events, podcasts and other properties.”

Peter Volynsky, EVP of corporate development and ventures for iHeartMedia, said the collaboration underscores the importance combining audio and video entertainment.

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“We are looking forward to collaborating with the Anthem team, offering even more unique and compelling content to our audiences, while also helping them build further awareness and grow their brand through our massive scale and national reach across our powerful multi-platform assets,” Volynsky said.

 

Mark Cuban Sells Majority Stake in AXS TV, HDNet Movies Network

Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” alum Mark Cuban Sept. 9 disclosed he has sold majority stake in AXS TV and HDNet Movies Network to TV personality Steve Harvey and Anthem Sports.

Anthem Sports will assume operating management of the two channels that cater to music, sports, entertainment and lifestyle audiences. The deal also includes AXS TV’s extensive library of owned programming, including wrestling, MMA and entertainment content.

Originally founded as HDNET by Mark Cuban in 2001. The channel was rebranded to AXS TV in 2012 after partnering with AEG, leading to additional music content development.

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The network’s current programming lineup features live concerts and events, music-themed information and reality programming, live wrestling and MMA, and off-network runs of popular music-themed programming. The network is distributed to more than 50 million homes.

AEG includes AXS TV as part of its own sponsorship portfolio, bringing many AEG partners to the network.

HDNet Movies, available in approximately 12 million U.S. homes, features theatrically released films and documentaries presented in high definition, including a variety of iconic classics and award winners spanning the 1950s to 2000s.

The networks add significantly to Anthem’s rapidly growing portfolio of content, which is currently available in 120 countries and includes diverse and popular sports and entertainment programming targeted to passionate communities with a focus on millennial viewers.

“The addition of AXS TV and HDNet Movies will allow for increased content ownership, digital expansion and even more compelling programming for consumers and our distribution partners,” Leonard Asper, CEO of Anthem Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement.

Cuban and AEG will continue to participate as equity partners, and AEG Global Partnerships, AEG’s advertising and sponsorship sales unit, will continue to support the channels in conjunction with Anthem’s sales team.

Joining as an investor is entertainer, producer and businessman Harvey, who will also enter into a strategic agreement for content development and promotion of Anthem’s portfolio of channels. Steve Harvey Global will have a seat on the board of directors of Anthem.

Anthem’s board of directors will also include Ted Goldthorpe, head of BC Partners Credit, a lead financier on the acquisition; Rick Ehrman, a former senior executive at Univision and NBC Universal; Robert Foster, founder and CEO of Capital Canada; Scott Honour, founding principal of Northern Pacific Group; and Loudon Owen, chairman and CEO of DLT Labs.

“Anthem’s combination of targeted brands, enthusiastic audiences, operational expertise, international footprint and vision makes them an ideal partner to take AXS TV and HDNet Movies to their next levels,”  Cuban said. “Given Anthem’s portfolio of premium content and complementary programming networks, we could not ask for a better home, and we are looking forward to the results we will collectively generate for this new partnership.”

“My team and I see great opportunity in Anthem,” Harvey said. “They have incredible shows, experiential entertainment, and a huge reach. We look forward to collaborating with Anthem on content development that will surprise and delight this newly expanded audience.”

AXS TV and HDNet Movies will continue operating from their existing facilities in Denver and Los Angeles, and the combined company will include Anthem’s playout and production center in Toronto and production facilities in Nashville and Europe.

“Anthem Sports & Entertainment brings a legacy of delivering boundary-breaking programming that perfectly aligns with our programming strategy and global concert venue and music festival assets,” said Charles Hirschhorn, President, AEG TV. “The combination of these television networks with Anthem creates global video destinations for ‘must see’ event programming.”

With this transaction, Anthem channels are now estimated to reach nearly 150 million global TV homes, including more than 110 million MVPD-served TV households in the U.S. and Canada.

In addition, Anthem’s proprietary content is distributed to more than 160 million global TV homes through licensing agreements with some of the world’s premier networks. Anthem’s networks and content also are available on nearly every major streaming service and digital platforms.

Anthem has offices and studios in New York, Toronto, Los Angeles and Nashville, and in Europe. Its portfolio includes:

“Impact Wrestling,” one of the world’s largest wrestling entertainment properties, creating more than 300 hours of original content annually across television and other digital platforms.

The channel specializes in premium content, pay-per-view events, products and merchandise, as well as the management, promotion and training of professional wrestlers.

“Impact Plus,” a multi-platform mobile app and digital subscription video-on-demand platform and one of the newest additions to the Anthem family of services, featuring live monthly premium network specials, instant access to the 3,000-plus hour Impact Wrestling library, groundbreaking original series, reality shows, documentaries, and exclusive events from international partners.

“Fight Network,” the world’s premier combat sports channel, dedicated to complete coverage of combat sports including fights, fight news and the fight lifestyle as well as mixed martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, professional wrestling, traditional martial arts and more.

“Fight Network” produces and owns its own library of fight themed documentaries and interview programs and is delivered to more than 43 million TV homes in the U.S., Canada and more than 15 other countries.

“GameTV,” featuring game show formats and programming, both current and past; reality, drama and documentary series; feature films; sports-based games including esports, poker, and card-based games; and live sporting events – all delivered to more than 8 million television homes throughout Canada.

“GameTV” also features online cash and social gaming through igamestv.com.

Game+, a cutting edge, millennial-targeted sports and entertainment channel, featuring sports-wagering programs, esports events, news and information, fantasy sports programming, high stakes poker, and other action-driven shows and lifestyle programming.

Game+ is distributed in more than 1 million MVPD TV homes in Canada and the U.S.

Pursuit Channel, one of the top outdoor channels in the U.S, offering outdoor enthusiasts diverse programming from calm freshwater fishing to fast-paced deer and waterfowl hunting. Pursuit Channel is available to more than 35 million TV homes in the US served by cable, satellite and IPTV.

Through its app PursuitUP the channel is also available on OTT streaming services.

Magnolia Pictures Bows Streaming Service, Branded Channels on Sling TV

Magnolia Pictures July 10 announced that its streaming service, Magnolia Selects, and three branded genre-specific channels have launched on Sling TV — Dish Networks’ online TV platform.

The home entertainment distributor launched in 2001 by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s 2029 Entertainment, offers critically acclaimed libraries of indie movies.

Magnolia channels “Warriors & Gangsters,” “DOX” and “Monsters & Nightmares,” offer a curated collection of action, documentaries and horror cult films. They are available to Sling subscribers for an additional $3 monthly per channel.

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Magnolia Selects is available for a $5 monthly surcharge.

“By teaming up with Sling TV, Magnolia Selects can continue to be the go-to destination for fans of independent film and premium content,” Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures, said in a statement. “We’ve found a new innovative way to ensure our subscribers have accessibility to our curated library of critically-acclaimed films through Sling TV’s flexible platform and personalized streaming service.”

Magnolia Selects titles include Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire; Swedish horror film, Let the Right One In; Oscar-nominated documentary from Alex Gibney, Enron: The Smartest Guys in The Room and Andrew Jarecki’s true crime story, All Good Things.

Additional content include comedies Tucker & Dale vs Evil and Goon, starring Seann William Scott, alongside the martial arts masterpiece 13 Assassins from director Takashi Miike.

The “Warriors & Gangsters” channel features films such as Ong Bak, 13 Assassins, Kingdom of War and Troll Hunter.

“Monsters & Nightmares” channel titles include The Host, The ABC’s of Death and Survival of the Dead, while “DOX” documentaries and docuseries include Food Inc., The Wolfpack, Iris and Best of Enemies.

Mark Cuban Sells Netflix-Friendly Landmark Theatres

Landmark Theatres, the Los Angeles-based independent exhibitor with 252 screens in 27 markets nationwide, Dec. 4 disclosed it has been acquired by the Cohen Media Group (CMG) for an undisclosed amount.

Co-owned since 2003 by Mark Cuban (“The Shark Tank” and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks) and Todd Wagner, Landmark has pushed indie film distribution and wasn’t afraid to partner with subscription ticket service MoviePass or screen Netflix movies – including recent release Roma– day-and-date with their global streaming debut.

CMG, formed in 2008 by real estate developer Charles Cohen – a film buff and executive producer on Oscar-nominated Frozen River, starring Melissa Leo, the company has restored hundreds of films, and distributes titles via Amazon’s Cohen Media Channel and on disc through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Anyone who knows Charles knows he is an avid lover of art and cinema, and this deal to purchase Landmark serves so many of his true passions and interests,” Landmark CEO Ted Mundorff said in a statement. “By acquiring our chain, he as supercharged and scaled his distribution footprint in the arthouse sector.”

Mundorff reportedly will remain CEO of Landmark along with the chain’s management going forward.

“As we complete the sale, we expect the transition between owners to be smooth and seamless with little or no impact to customers,” Wagner and Cuban said in a statement.

 

 

 

Amazon Eyeing Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres

Amazon reportedly is among several companies looking to acquire Landmark Theatres, the indie exhibitor co-owned by “Shark Tank” veteran and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and his business partner Todd Wagner.

Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Amazon is interested in Landmark as the ecommerce behemoth ventures further into brick-and-mortar businesses. Any deal would be relatively small compared to Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Los Angeles-based Whole Foods last year.

Landmark operates 50 theaters with 250 screens in 27 markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Dallas.

The chain last year became one of the few high-profile exhibitors to ink a revenue-sharing agreement with ticket subscription service MoviePass.

With Amazon operating a proprietary studio, ownership of an exhibition venue would technically be in violation of the 70-year-old Paramount Pictures consent decrees, which prohibits studios from owning theaters.

The Justice Department antitrust division earlier this month announced it would revisit the rulings due to changes in the distribution of entertainment.

“The Paramount decrees have been on the books with no sunset provisions since 1949,” Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust unit, said in an Aug. 2 statement. “It is high time that these and other legacy judgments are examined to determine whether they still serve to protect competition.”

Delrahim is also responsible for the antitrust litigation filed against the ATT/Time Warner merger, in which a federal judge sided against the government’s claim the merger was anti-consumer. The decision is under appeal.

 

Atom Tickets Inks Deal with Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres

Atom Tickets, the app-based paperless movie ticket platform May 15 announced a deal with Landmark Theatres, which is owned by Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban.

The deal affords Atom Tickets –which is financially backed by Lionsgate and 20thCentury Fox Film – access to Landmark Theatre’s 53 theatres and 255 screens. The exhibitor ups Atom’s total reach to more than 20,000 screens across North America.

With exhibitors feeling the crunch from over-the-top video and alternative entertainment options, indie theaters such Landmark eye Atom Tickets as a means of putting consumers in seats.

Landmark recently inked a revenue-sharing deal with MoviePass, the controversial subscription-based ticket service enabling members daily access to one screening for a $9.95 monthly fee.

The free Atom app and website offer movie reviews, trailers and synopses to guide consumers about moviegoing options. Atom offers streamlined ordering of tickets and concessions from any Android or iOS phone. At the theater, users go directly to the ushers and concession counters, where they scan a QR code at tablet kiosks.

“We’re excited to partner with Atom Tickets as yet another way to provide the best moviegoing experience to our guests,” Cuban said in a statement.

 

Mark Cuban Accepting MoviePass Fits Maverick Role

NEWS ANALYSIS – Billionaire Mark Cuban is as much reality TV showman as digital pioneer, self-help author, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise, AXS TV network and Magnolia Pictures, among other hats.

When Cuban talks, people listen. As a celebrity TV judge on “Shark Tank,” contestants are often grateful just to hear Cuban’s input on their entrepreneurial dreams – even if he has no financial interest backing them or advice to offer. Cuban makes no secret his affection for upstart techies looking to disrupt the status quo.

Like movie ticket subscription service MoviePass, which is now offering (for a limited time) daily access to a theatrical screening for a $6.95 monthly fee. The strategy — however fiscally illogical — has irked major theater chains, despite increasing moviegoing foot traffic.

MoviePass is spearheaded by CEO Mitch Lowe, a longtime industry disruptor who cut his teeth helping Netflix and later Redbox reinvent the home video market.

When Cuban agreed to give MoviePass a percentage of ticket sales from his Landmark Theatres chain, it was much more than revenue-sharing from 255 screens across 53 theaters in 27 markets nationwide. It was subtle affirmation without Lowe pitching five “Shark Tank” judges.

“There is no better place to watch a movie than Landmark and now MoviePass customers will be able to enjoy all of our theaters,” Cuban said in a statement.

Landmark, which Cuban co-owns with Todd Wagner, is no stranger to bucking distribution norms. The chain was one of the first to screen (independent) movies concurrent with their release in retail channels.

Cuban infamously blogged in 2005 that consumers should have access to Hollywood movies, “How they want it, when they want it, where they want it.”

Cuban released faith-based drama, The War Within, simultaneously on Landmark screens and HDNet (now AXS TV).

In 2008, he experimented screening a Mavericks game in 3D at a Landmark/Magnolia theater in Dallas.

Last year, Landmark opened the first new theater in midtown Manhattan in 15 years: a 30,000-square-foot complex with eight screens featuring wall-to-wall screens, laser projection and oversized lounge chairs for viewers.

“We are creating a new destination for cinema,” Ted Mundorff, president of Landmark Theatres, said in a statement.

Cuban himself upended conventional wisdom during the dot-com bubble in 1999 selling (with Wagner) upstart Internet-radio platform, Broadcast.com, to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in stock – or reportedly more than $10,000 per subscriber. Cuban shortly sold his Yahoo stock, netting $1 billion at the age of 41.

Yahoo shut down Broadcast.com in 2002. Cuban now markets “three-comma” T-shirts in support of the entrepreneurial spirit – and his fiscal legacy.

MoviePass Inks Deal With Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres

Movie theater subscription service MoviePass is getting a “look” from Dallas Mavericks billionaire owner and “Shark Tank” regular Mark Cuban.

MoviePass March 27 announced a deal with Landmark Theatres, which is owned by Wagner/Cuban Companies, a group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban.

Through the agreement, MoviePass will be integrated into Landmark Theatres’ ticketing system. Subscribers who use the service at Landmark will be able to use e-ticketing, advanced screening reservation, and in-app seat selection.

Landmark operates 255 screens across 53 theaters in 27 markets nationwide, including Florida, Illinois, Los Angeles, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin.

“There is no better place to watch a movie than Landmark and now MoviePass customers will be able to enjoy all of our theaters,” Cuban said in a statement.

A MoviePass representative said the partnership includes revenue sharing, which the service is seeking from all exhibitors. Aligning with Cuban underscores MoviePass’ worth to their bottom line, according to Bernadette McCabe, SVP of exhibitor relations & business strategy at MoviePass.

“It’s another step towards educating exhibitors on how we can work together in a mutually beneficial way to create a valuable and cost-effective experience for moviegoers,” McCabe said.