Viacom, MGM, Lionsgate ink JV for TV channel, VOD service

Mumbai: Viacom, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Lionsgate have formed a joint venture that creates a next-generation premium television channel and video on demand (VOD) service that combines new and classic feature film output and original television series of five leading studios.

The new premium channel, which will launch in the fall of 2009, was announced jointly by Viacom president and chief executive officer Philippe Dauman; Paramount Pictures chairman and chief executive officer Brad Grey; Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer Studios chairman and CEO Harry E. Sloan; and Lionsgate co-chairman and chief executive officer Jon Feltheimer.

The new venture will have access to Paramount and Paramount Vantage titles released theatrically on or after 1 January, 2008 and MGM, United Artists and Lionsgate titles released theatrically on or after 1 January, 2009.

The venture’s programming slate will have exclusive access during the pay television window to such recent and highly anticipated films as Iron Man, Star Trek, Pink Panther 2, Cloverfield, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Shutter Island, GI Joe, Love Guru, and Valkyrie, along with many others currently in production including planned new installments of Robocop and Outer Limits.

In addition, the new venture will have access to motion picture titles spanning the vast libraries of the five studios, which libraries include Braveheart, Forrest Gump and the Mission: Impossible, The Godfather and Star Trek franchises from Paramount; the James Bond, Pink Panther and Rocky franchises from MGM; and Dirty Dancing, Reservoir Dogs, Crash, Monster’s Ball, the Saw franchise, the Tyler Perry catalogue and The Blair Witch Project from Lionsgate. The new venture will also feature new original television series created by the five studios.

Viacom will provide operational support to the venture, including marketing and affiliate services through its MTV Networks division.

Dauman said, "By combining the output of Paramount with MGM and Lionsgate, two film and television powerhouses, we are creating a premium film and television programming brand with unique flexibility to bring consumers the very best blockbuster movies and innovative TV series."

Grey said, "We look forward to launching this historic premium entertainment service with a strong slate that includes new releases like Cloverfield, Iron Man, and Star Trek alongside Paramount’s legendary library."

Sloan said, "At MGM, we are very pleased to have found two partners that share our vision of providing first-run movies and premium-quality original television programming across linear and digital platforms in a new way."

Feltheimer said, "We are excited to be working with two of the most respected studios in the business to start a new venture which marshals the historic legacy of the past, the filmed entertainment leadership of the present and a vision for the digital marketplace of the future… This is a true next-generation premium content offering for the consumer."