Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate form 'game changing' joint venture

If you were going to announce a new ‘game changing’ joint venture involving four leading Hollywood studios, you wouldn’t choose to do it on a Sunday, right? Because that’s precisely what Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate have done, with their newly formed premium TV channel and VOD service, which will be rolled out in the fall of 2009.

While details given in the press release are thin on the ground, plastered over by a very generous helping of hyperbole, the yet-to-be named “Innovative Premium Entertainment Service” will offer new and classic feature films and original TV programing from each of the studios involved, and in what looks like a major shake up of the traditional U.S. pay TV market (lookout HBO, Showtime and Starz), the joint venture will have first access to upcoming films such as “Iron Man,” “Star Trek,” “The Pink Panther 2,” “Cloverfield” and “Robocop.” The combined back catalog will also cover classic hits such as “Dirty Dancing,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Crash,” “Braveheart,” “Forrest Gump,” the “Godfather” series and the Rocky and James Bond franchises, notes Hollywood Reporter.

However, of more significance to last100, the new joint venture will have a strong online component, according to an interview given to paidContent by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman: “As we go forward and make further announcements, you will see that this will be oriented toward the consumer. It will also meet the needs of varying distributors and take advantage of online distribution…innovative both in presenting the content and in distributing it.” Dauman says that the joint venture will enable the studios involved to have greater control over their own destiny compared to traditional distribution deals, in terms of what they can and can’t offer online during competing release windows. This suggests to me that we may see paid-for downloads of premium content offered at the same time as pay TV.

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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