Epix eyes October for grand opening

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Epix, the new premium TV channel and broadband service from MGM, Lionsgate, Viacom and its Paramount Pictures unit, is targeted for an October launch.

Mark Greenberg, president of Studio 3 Networks, which runs the service, brushed aside concerns that Epix has yet to ink a carriage deal nearly nine months after being announced.

"We're only guilty of announcing this too early, but we had an obligation to because we're a public company," Greenberg said, adding that execs are in discussions with multiple cable operators. "Eight months in, this is exactly where I thought we'd be."

Epix will consist of a linear TV channel that would launch in October as well as a broadband site, eyed to go live in May, where subscribers can watch movies on-demand. There won't be any marketing or promotion tied to its bow or an active push to sign up subscribers at first, Greenberg said.

The channel's lineup consist will primarily of movies from Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM, but execs are planning to acquire titles from outside companies. Movies that will be available initially include "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Iron Man," "Cloverfield" and 17 remastered James Bond films. Greenberg said the window for all the movies that Epix airs will be shorter than is typical for pay TV: nine months after theatrical, compared to the usual 11-12 months.

Other content at launch will include a 1950s black-and-white series about a CIA agent named "Jimmy Bond," originally adapted by CBS from Ian Fleming's "Casino Royale."

Also on the slate will be original series and live event programming. Greenberg said one original series pilot should be ready to air at launch, with the goal of greenlighting a series for a 2010 premiere. Execs may choose to forgo the traditional multiyear series model and instead focus on multipart series with a definite end, a la HBO's "John Adams."

Also in 2010, Greenberg is hoping to add live events including concerts, comedy and perhaps sports.

Epix is targeting a younger audience, the adults 18-34 demo. He said the broadband component should play a big role in drawing those subscribers, including a component whereby viewers can simultaneously watch the same movie from different places and discuss it in a chat room.
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