Distrib inks homevid deal with cabler

Undeterred by Lionsgate’s bruising takeover bid, Image Entertainment has inked another big content deal, this one for homevid rights to all new and unreleased programming from Discovery nets.

The multiyear pact will beef up Image’s already diverse catalog, giving it access to a broad range of nature, travel, science and military skeins. Previously, Sony homevid and Artisan released select product from Discovery skeins, but Image plans to ramp up the releases considerably.

“They cherry-picked only the tentpole shows, but that is not really what we are going to do,” said Image senior VP, programming, Barry Gordon.

He said consumers are looking for niche product that speaks to them directly, not just the big hits, in the age of the Internet’s so-called Long Tail. Gordon said Image plans to work with retailers — traditional DVD merchants and those that don’t normally carry DVDs — to build Discovery sections in stores or online. That might mean getting a disc from chef Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel skein into a food specialty store, for example.

Image handles its own production, making it relatively easy to pump out a lot of titles.

“Going forward, we’re starting with (the idea that) more is more,” said Gordon, who calls special interest programming the next area of growth in the DVD biz.

Although Image is best known for its music and comedy titles, the company also has had success distributing Imax titles in museums, among other venues. This summer, the company inked a major deal with Relativity Media, a hedge fund backed entity, to distribute theatrical fare (Daily Variety, Aug. 14), although no titles have yet been announced.

Lionsgate, which owns about 19% of Image stock, has accused Image of mismanagement in its yearlong takeover bid. Image shareholders will cast their vote on the two companies’ competing slates for board of directors at Image’s annual shareholder meeting Oct. 10 in Woodland Hills, Calif.

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