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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 19, 2010

Epix Deal Opens Up 14 Million New Customers in U.S.

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Take that, Showtime.

Movie channel Epix hits the news, signing a carriage agreement with Dish Network that will "give Epix nationwide U.S. distribution for the first time, marking a breakthrough in its efforts to reach more viewers."

According to Business Week, Dish is the second- largest U.S. satellite TV service.

According to Reuters, this makes Epix, a joint venture between Lions Gate Entertainment, Viacom's Paramount Pictures (News - Alert) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer "available to 14 million additional customers across the United States."

BusinessWeek says Dish's customers will get "online and on-demand access to films such as "Star Trek," starting this month."

Overall it'll be available to more than 30 million homes by May. That's a hefty chunk of market, we can see why they're excited. Of course, as per usual procedure, nobody close to the deal's discussing the terms.

"The channel offers access to more than 15,000 films, including Precious, Star Trek and the Tyler Perry flicks, as well as original series on multiple platforms," notes Forbes, adding that it's not clear sailing:

"Though a critical boost, Epix is not yet out of the woods. The channel still lacks major distributors like Comcast, Time Warner and DirecTV (News - Alert), and it's not yet clear how many of its 30 million potential customers will sign up. What's more, two of the channel's parent companies, Lionsgate and MGM, are in struggles of their own: while the former fights off Carl Icahn's hostile takeover offer, the latter teeters on the brink of bankruptcy."

Epix had previously reached deals with Verizon FiOS (News - Alert), Cox, Charter and Mediacom, Reuters said, noting that the channel still hasn't struck a deal with the either Comcast or DirecTV, the two largest pay services in America.

"Lions Gate, Paramount and MGM launched Epix in reaction to a move by CBS's pay television network, Showtime, to cut fees it paid to show movies," Reuters reported, adding that the three studios "parted ways" with Showtime in October 2009 with just Verizon's (News - Alert) FiOS TV service as a distribution partner.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Michael Dinan