FilmOn TV Networks has acquired CinemaNow, once the digital-entertainment face of retail giant Best Buy, from private-equity firm Regent Equity Partners.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. CinemaNow will continue to operate its direct-to-consumer transactional video-on-demand business, which offers 55,000 premium movies and TV episodes to rent or own from studios including Disney, 20th Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Lionsgate, eOne, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros.
CinemaNow was founded in 1999 — the prehistoric days of digital video — backed by investors including Lionsgate, Cisco Systems and EchoStar. A decade later the pioneering service, then owned by Sonic Solutions, cut a deal with Best Buy to use CinemaNow as its online entertainment brand. Best Buy exited the business in 2014 and sold the name to Reliance Majestic Holdings, which had also acquired the back-end operations group that powered CinemaNow.
The service competes with video storefronts including Apple’s iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play and Walmart’s Vudu. Currently, CinemaNow’s catalog includes new releases such as “The Martian,” “Inside Out,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7.” The service is available on some 350 different devices, including Apple iOS, Android, Roku, Google Chromecast, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox and Samsung.
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FilmOn’s takeover of CinemaNow is the latest move by CEO Alkiviades “Alki” David, the billionaire whose family owns a Coca-Cola bottling empire in Greece, to assemble a next-generation entertainment conglomerate. London-based FilmOn offers nearly 1,000 free streaming channels across multiple genres and more than 45,000 VOD titles, and the company claims it reaches 70 million monthly users worldwide.
“Our goal has always been to advance legal access to great content for the benefit of the consumer,” David said in a statement. “Now we’re working with all the major studios and broadcasters to build the future of entertainment together.”
With the acquisition, FilmOn has appointed Donna Smith, formerly CinemaNow’s VP of new business, as president of CinemaNow. David Goldsmith, FilmOn’s chief strategy officer, will lead the integration of the FilmOn and CinemaNow platforms, and FilmOn chief content officer Kim Hurwitz will integrate FilmOn content with CinemaNow.
CinemaNow will distribute exclusive content owned by FilmOn, including FilmOn TV Network’s original programming and licensed library titles. In addition, CinemaNow will distribute video content created by David’s Hologram USA, which is creating shows around dead celebrities including Whitney Houston, Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline and Andy Kaufmann.
FilmOn also said it will leverage CinemaNow via its partnership with PC maker Lenovo, which pre-loads FilmOn’s apps on every computer, tablet, smartphone and smart TV it sells. FilmOn will continue to white-label CinemaNow and expand the reach of premium studio content through its network of 10,000 affiliates including BlackBerry, Intel and iHeartMedia.