A deal with the nation’s largest traditional MVPD has long eluded the premium movie network that was created as a joint venture of Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate in 2008. Epix bowed as a linear and digital service ithe following year, but met with resistance from the largest cable operators and leading satcaster DirecTV.
DirecTV and others maintained that consumers didn’t need another movie channel at a time when theatrical releases have become more widely available than ever before via streaming and on-demand platforms. Epix wound up cutting a lucrative distribution deal with Netflix in 2010 that further alienated traditional MVPDs who even then eyeing as competition the company destined to become a worldwide streaming juggernaut.
Epix finally reached a deal with Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, that took effect in early 2018. DirecTV was the last hold out.
The deal calls for Epix to be made available across DirecTV and DirecTV Now platforms for $5.99 a month. DirecTV at present has a total subscriber base of about 22.4 million.
“We are thrilled to expand our relationship with AT&T and make our growing slate of original programming and Hollywood movies accessible to viewers across the DirecTV universe,” said Michael Wright, president of Epix. “It’s an exciting moment of growth for us as we build a brand that delivers a superior customer experience with high-powered, premium original series.”
MGM bought out its partners interests in Epix for $1 billion in 2017. Since then, MGM has devoted major resources to building up Epix as an ad-free platform for original series programming. The studio makes its money by selling those shows aggressively in international markets. Notable originals at present include “Get Shorty,” the upcoming Forest Whitaker starrer “Godfather of Harlem,” Batman-adjacent DC drama “Pennyworth” and Euro imports such as political thriller “Deep State” and Julian Fellowes-penned “Belgravia.”
Monty Sarhan, exec VP and general manager who was one of Epix’s first employees a decade ago, called DirecTV “an incredibly important platform for us and a truly momentous launch for our network.”
The long-awaited addition of Epix is somewhat surrpising given DirecTV’s focus on tamping down programming costs wherever possible as DirecTV steadily loses subscribers. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We are pleased to add Epix to our vast content offering in the premium TV category. With its growing lineup of original programming, Epix is a great addition for our DirecTV customers,” said Dan York, AT&T’s senior exec VP and chief content officer.
(Pictured: “Get Shorty”)