Dauman: More Epix Deals to Come

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Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman told an investor conference here Wednesday that its premium movie channel joint venture next month will have several distribution announcements to make in the days leading up to the launch next month, but declined to provide details.

Epix, a joint venture between Paramount, Lionsgate Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Epix is scheduled to launch in early October. So far, the venture has only signed on one distribution partner -- Verizon Communications, which plans to make the service available on multiple platforms.

While Epix has drawn some criticism from potential distributors who have wondered publicly about the need for another premium movie channel, Dauman said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference Sept. 16 that there will be more deals to come.

"We've had very productive conversations with many distributors, including some who in the past may have made some public statements," Dauman said. "We've announced the Verizon distribution deal, by the time we launch we expect to announce some additional distribution arrangements and then we will continue beyond that."

Dauman said that he believes the flexibility of the channel will make it most attractive to distributors.
"The great thing we offer distributors is we have for them what is a relatively low cost product; it's one with a lot of flexibility," Dauman said. "If in certain markets they want to build it on a la carte and flip to a tier, they have the ability to do that."

While Dauman did not reveal pricing for the channel, he predicted it would be profitable "sometime next year or earlier the following year." That, he added, is a function of it low cost of operation. The primary cost of the channel is the output deals from the various movie studios.

"The economics vary depending on the distributor," Dauman said. "One selling point is that they can use this service to meet their needs."

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