MGM, Japan’s Wowow bowbow output deal

MGM Telecommunications Group, the foreign TV sales arm of the studio, has inked a nonexclusive output agreement with Japan Satellite Broadcasting, better known as Wowow, Japan’s largest pay TV provider.

Under the agreement, Wowow will air current and library films from MGM as well as TV movies and made-for-video movies. No figure was available for the deal’s value.

The agreement represents the first output deal for feature films MGM has signed with Wowow, which previously had access to the studio’s movies through a sub-distribution pact inked in 1990 under previous studio ownership with Tokyo Broadcasting System and Tohokushinsha Film Corp.

“The key for us,” MGM Telecommunications Group president Gary Marenzi told Daily Variety, “is that this represents the first chance we’ve had (in Japan) to do our own deal with Wowow. It’s a state-of-the-art deal.” Marenzi said free TV rights to MGM product are also now available in Japan, and that his group is studying which fledgling digital platform to assign yet other rights.

“MGM is known throughout Japan as one of the great American studios,” said JSB president Shoji Sakuma in a statement. “Its recent successes have made MGM films extremely popular among Japanese audiences.”

Included in the multiyear deal are such movies as “Get Shorty,” “The Birdcage,” “Species” and “Goldeneye.” Additionally, Wowow — which boasts 2.2 million subscribers — will continue to air MGM’s TV series “The Outer Limits.”

Wowow went on air in April 1991 as the first private satellite broadcasting and pay TV channel in Japan.

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