Kino Lorber Merging Its Two Acquired Streaming Services

Kino Lorber’s MHz Choice and Topic streaming services are merging into a single international series SVOD service for the United States and Canada.

The combined service will operate under the MHz Choice brand and feature European dramas and mysteries as well as Nordic noir crime and thrillers.

Kino Lorber also announced that MHz Choice has acquired the German series “Babylon Berlin” and will bring its first season to subscribers beginning in April. The fourth season, never before seen in North America, will premiere June 25. Kino Lorber already distributes “Babylon Berlin” in the transactional home entertainment market.

“Babylon Berlin” joins a catalog of classic and exclusive international series including “The Killing,” “The Bridge,” “Detective Montalbano,” “The Sea Beyond,” “Pagan Peak,” “A French Village,” “Spiral,” “Beck,” “Murder In …” and many others.

“Babylon Berlin” is co-created, written and directed by Tom Twyker, Achim von Borries, and Hendrik Handloegten and based on the novels by Volker Kutscher. Set in Berlin during the latter years of the Weimar Republic, beginning in 1929, the seriesfollows Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch), a police inspector on assignment from Cologne, who is on a clandestine mission to break up an extortion ring, and Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries), a police clerk by day and prostitute by night, who aspires to become a police inspector.

Existing MHz Choice and Topic subscribers will transition to the new service over the next several months, with the combined libraries available to them at the current MHz Choice price of $7.99/month. The combined service, now featuring hundreds more series, will be overseen by Kino Lorber chief operating officer Martha Benyam. Lisa Schwartz, Kino Lorber’s chief revenue officer, oversees distribution and partnerships, with EVP, content strategy Lance Schwulst continuing to oversee programming and Monica Bloom, who joined Kino Lorber from Topic, continuing to serve as chief marketing officer.

Kino Lorber, First Look Media Launch Joint Venture to House Their Streaming Services

Kino Lorber and First Look Media on May 22 announced that they are forming a new joint venture to house both First Look’s Topic streaming service and Kino Lorber’s MHz Choice.

The new company will now operate both Topic streaming and MHz Choice, with Kino Lorber owning the majority stake and assuming management oversight of both.

Topic’s streaming service features such popular titles as the original versions of the series “The Killing” and “The Bridge,” as well as the Nordic series “Arctic Circle.” It joins Kino Lorber’s other SVOD service MHz Choice, a leading U.S. streamer dedicated to international series such as “A French Village” and “Detective Montalbano,” which the company acquired in November 2022. 

Kino Lorber will assume management oversight of the service, including programming, marketing and technology, which will be overseen by MHz Networks founder Frederick Thomas. Topic general manager Ryan Chanatry and Jennifer Liang, who oversaw acquisitions for the streaming service, will consult through the transition period. Kino Lorber SVOD services are overseen by chief strategy officer Ed Carroll. Programming for both Topic streaming and MHz Choice will be overseen by Lance Schwulst, SVP of content strategy for MHz Networks. Topic’s VP of marketing, Monica Bloom, will join the new company and serve as chief marketing officer for both services.

“We’re excited to partner with First Look Media and build on the strong SVOD brand they have created with Topic streaming,” said Kino Lorber president and CEO Richard Lorber. “This is a key strategic investment for Kino Lorber that will strengthen Topic streaming and MHz Choice in their complementarity and create new synergies with our world class film business.” 

“Ryan and his team identified the perfect niche in crime and thriller and built one of the most exciting streaming services available today,” said Michael Bloom, CEO of First Look Media. “We’re excited to partner with Kino Lorber, with its commitment to premium international programming, in this new joint venture, firmly positioning ourselves in the growing market of specialty streaming services.

With a library of over 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art house distribution for over 45 years, releasing 35 films per year theatrically and garnering seven Academy Award nominations in nine years. The company also brings over 350 titles annually to the home entertainment and educational markets through digital and physical media releases. Kino Lorber also handles ancillary media for an expanding family of distributed labels —  including Zeitgeist Films, Milestone Films, Cohen Media Group, Menemsha Films, and Greenwich Entertainment —  and licenses titles digitally to all major TVOD and SVOD platforms.