Pay channel gets distribution platform on cable operator

Epix continues to pick up distribution momentum. The fledgling feevee service owned by Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM unveiled a carriage deal Thursday with Charter Communications that will make the channel available to another 5.5 million cable subscribers.

Epix will bow on Charter systems in May. The pay cabler had a hard time gaining traction with major cable operators last year in the months leading up to its late October launch, but of late it has been growing its reach. Last month, Epix inked carriage deals, to begin in April, with Cox Communications and Mediacom. Charter is the nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, followed by Cox.

Epix is also believed to be in advanced talks with Dish Network, the nation’s No. 2 satcaster with nearly 14 million subscribers.

A big part of Epix’s pitch to cable operators and viewers is that its movies and original fare, such as comedy and concert specials, is available for on-demand viewing via broadband, which cable operators can tout in pitching their high-speed Internet services to subscribers. Among the titles available now to Epix are Par hits “Star Trek,” “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” “Paranormal Activity,” Lionsgate’s Oscar contender “Precious” and Tyler Perry pics including “Madea Goes to Jail” and “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.”

“Video consumption is evolving, and our customers want access to the best movies and entertainment, when they want it and on multiple platforms,” said Rich DiGeronimo, Charter’s veep of product management.

Epix has yet to disclose how many paying customers have signed on for the service. The fee for the channel is set by the various distributors. Verizon’s Fios service, which was the first to carry Epix, charges about $10 for the channel as a standalone purchase, though it is also bundled into other pay TV tiers offered by Fios.

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