Avail-TVN in VOD Deal with Epix

--Epix Teams with USO to Provide Online Screening Rooms for US Military Personnel

Avail-TVN--the company formed last July from the merger of VOD distribution services provider, TVN Entertainment, and Avail Media, a provider of managed content-aggregation services for smaller IPTV operators (see the article published on itvt.com, July 15th)--announced last week that it has signed an industry-wide, long-term digital media services deal with existing customer, Epix, a multiplatform (linear, VOD, online) premium programming service which is a joint venture between Viacom, its Paramount Pictures arm, MGM and Lionsgate and which has to date announced carriage deals with Verizon FiOS TV, Cox and Mediacom.

According to Avail-TVN, the deal provides Epix with the technological capability to access over 48 million VOD households via every service provider in North America. Epix currently offers around 300 hours of multiplatform content in standard- and high-definition, including new Hollywood releases, library titles and original programming from its corporate parents. It also provides subscribers with online access to around 7,000 hours of movies and specials. "Avail-TVN played an instrumental role in launching Epix on VOD quickly and seamlessly last summer," Epix' SVP of business operations, Robert Sussman, said in a prepared statement. "As a next-generation multiplatform premium entertainment offering, we are strongly committed to embracing new technologies that best serve our consumers. Avail-TVN has already proven to be an invaluable partner and we look forward to continuing to work with them as we deliver VOD content to other multichannel video partners." Added Avail-TVN chief revenue officer, Jim Riley: "We are delighted to announce our agreement with Epix. Epix has been innovative in approaching distribution opportunities--embracing a broad range of digital media services--to provide their affiliates and consumers with multiple viewing options to access high-quality movies anywhere, anytime and on nearly any platform they choose."

Avail-TVN says that the VOD services it will provide to Epix under the terms of the new deal include its ADONISS asset management system, which it bills as providing a Web-based remote interface for both affiliates and programmers, allowing them to track content, view menu structures and modify metadata "anywhere in the VOD value chain."

In other Epix news: The company also announced last week that it is partnering with the United Service Organizations (USO) to provide a service through which "military service personnel will be able to connect with their families and friends by watching movies in an online screening room" on its www.epixhd.com Web site.

According to the company, the screening room enables troops to choose from more than 150 on-demand films and other programs and invite their families and friends to watch the content online with them. In order to participate, troops must request an invite code at a dedicated USO landing page (epixhd.com/uso). The new service's initial phase launched on January 19th and is slated to last for seven days: it sees Epix and the USO testing the online screening room experience on four domestic military bases, including Ft. Carson (Colorado Springs, CO), Ft. Drum (Watertown, NY), Ft. Bliss (El Paso, TX) , and at the USO Service Center at Dallas Fort Worth Airport. The availability of access codes for the service is being promoted via posters and postcards on each base. According to Epix, this pilot program is the first step toward a broader USO partnership that the company hopes to roll out over the coming year.

North America