AMC Networks form strategic partnership for streaming services
17, 2016) RLJ Entertainment, the entertainment content distribution
company which owns and operates UMC (Urban Movie Channel), the first
urban-focused subscription streaming service, and Acorn TV, the premier
streaming service for British mystery and drama, has formed a strategic
partnership with AMC Networks, the company behind several of the most
recognized brands and shows in entertainment, including AMC, BBC
AMERICA, WE tv, SundanceTV, AMC Networks International, IFC, and IFC
Films. The announcement was made by RLJ Entertainment Chairman Bob
Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), and AMC
Networks President and CEO Josh Sapan.
As part of the agreement, AMC Networks has invested $65 million in the
form of loans to RLJ Entertainment to refinance the company's existing
senior credit facility, add working capital, reduce the cost of capital
through lower interest rates, and provide revised covenants that will
allow for increased operational flexibility. In addition, AMC Networks
has received warrants which, if exercised, would provide AMC Networks
with at least 50.1% of the outstanding RLJ Entertainment common stock on
a fully diluted basis.
The partnership builds on each company's long track-record of
successfully developing high-quality content for targeted audiences and
capitalizing on new technology and changing viewing habits to make that
content available to consumers.
AMC Networks' support and investment will accelerate the distribution
and development of diverse content and independent films from RLJ
Entertainment across multiple platforms, including its
direct-to-consumer streaming video-on-demand channels: Acorn TV is the
premier SVOD destination for world-class British television, with more
than 370,000 paying monthly subscribers (which has grown by 92 percent
since December 31, 2015) and a deep library that includes thousands of
hours of programming, including exclusive, award-winning content. UMC is
quickly becoming a leading destination for African American and urban
viewers, with a rapidly growing fan base seeking diversity of creative
By aligning Acorn TV and UMC with AMC Networks and its channels and film
business – most notably BBC AMERICA, WE tv and IFC Films, which serve
similar audiences -- Acorn TV and UMC will have the potential to
cross-promote, develop and distribute content ultimately reaching even
more viewers of high-quality British television dramas, urban content,
and independent film.
Commenting on the new partnership and investment by AMC Networks, Mr.
Johnson stated, "I am both delighted and excited that RLJ Entertainment
is joining with the AMC Networks family to help capitalize on the
opportunities that exist to provide consumers with more diverse content
across multiple platforms. RLJ Entertainment has a leading position,
through Acorn TV with British television programming, and through UMC
with quality urban-focused content, and independent films that we will
be able to further develop and grow with the capital and support of AMC
Johnson continued: "Josh Sapan, who I am proud to call a friend and whom
I've known for more than 20 years, is a visionary CEO and an absolute
advocate for producing and delivering to audiences of all interests the
best in quality and award-winning entertainment. As founder of RLJ
Entertainment, I look forward to the future of this new chapter in our
business and entering into a relationship with one of the most dynamic
and creative content companies in the entertainment industry."
"We have deep respect for Bob Johnson and the many businesses he's
built, from BET to Acorn TV and UMC" said Josh Sapan, President and CEO
of AMC Networks. "Bob is a talented entrepreneur with a real
understanding of the power of strong brands and a proven ability to
identify and provide premium content to a wide range of audiences by
tapping into the demand for content that uniquely fits their specific
consumer interests. Much like the early days of cable, and AMC Networks'
own history of providing quality programming to targeted audiences, RLJ
Entertainment's Acorn TV and UMC appeal to consumers with quality
programming that represents diverse voices. Our investment is a
strategic opportunity to provide capital and additional resources to RLJ
Entertainment as they continue to explore their many opportunities for
growth, and while we consider the many potentially powerful synergies
with our innovative partners at the BBC, and our own WE tv network."
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