Epix nears launch date — more distribution deals coming?

August 10, 2009

Suddenly, after limited news over the past year, Epix has been very much the talk of the town in recent days. A number of publications, including Reuters, have picked up on some announcements out of the pay TV site jointly owned by Paramount, Lions Gate, and MGM.

The key bit of news, of course, was the announcement that it had reached its first distribution deal, with Verizon. Chief Executive Mark Greenberg suggested to us that other deals should be coming soon — that he is talking to everybody and “some are further along than others.”

This is key, in the eyes of Wall Street. Distribution deals are always a bit tricky, and even tougher in the current economic environment. But analysts want to see Epix sign a deal with one of the big players — one with a ton of subscribers. We’re talking about Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV. So far the reaction has been a little lukewarm from some of the big boys but that could just be a negotiating tactic.

That aside, there have been some other relatively significant bit of news. In case you missed…

  • Epix will be launching in October, though hasn’t announced an official date. Sounds like they could be planning some sort of “event” or “special” to kickstart the channel
  • The epixHD.com web site, which we’ve seen, is going to launch earlier.  It’s currently in beta, and looks good. Has some of the feel of Hulu.com
  • Epix, which will be home to some 15,000 films, including titles like “Iron Man” and “Star Trek” and the James Bond movies, just signed a content deal with independently owned Samuel Goldwyn Films.
  • Other content deals will likely follow, but Greenberg seemed doubtful that any full, equity partners would be brought on board.
  • While most pay-TV channels air films about 12 months after the hit the theaters, Epix is planning to roll its out in 9-1/2 months (helps to be owned by the studios).

Still, none of this matters all the much without distribution. We’ll keep you posted.

Keep an eye on:

  • In other news on Monday, Dish Network’s stock is jumping. The reason? For the first time in over a year the company added subscribers — impressive in the current climate. (Reuters)
  • Bon Voyage. As expected, Microsoft has sold the Razorfish ad agency to France’s Publicis. (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

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