Epix gets Dish Network deal

5:17 AM PST 04/19/2010 by Georg Szalai, AP

Premium network in first sat carriage agreement

NEW YORK - Premium TV network Epix on Monday unveiled a carriage agreement with satellite TV giant Dish Network, which has 14.1 million subscribers.

With the deal, Epix will be available to as many as more than 30 million homes by May. Financial details were not disclosed.

Epix, a Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM joint venture, has long pursued a satellite TV deal since its first distribution agreement late last summer and since launching at the end of October. The Dish agreement marks its sixth overall distribution pact after signing with Verizon FiOS, as well as cable operators Cox, NCTC and Charter and Mediacom (the final two of which launch in the next couple of weeks).

Epix is expected to launch on Dish in the next 10 days and is expected to first become available on the sat TV firm's HD tier.

Epix president and CEO Mark Greenberg said the Dish arrangement "is a major step forward" for the TV venture. He didn't disclose financial details, but told THR that the agreement provides incentives to both sides "to get (subscriber) volume."

Dish highlighted its focus on increasing HD content offerings in making the announcement.

The deal is another step for Epix towards reaching broad distribution and breakeven.
Observers particularly argued that the number of deals struck by Epix may prove as an incentive for other distribution firms to sign carriage agreements to avoid allowing competitors to highlight their lack of the network. Executives of big distributors like Comcast had before the launch of Epix argued though that they don't need additional premium networks.

"It definitely helps to have its first nationwide multichannel video distributor," said Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce about the Dish deal.

Epix has also been touting its broadband site, highlighting that it has been popular with younger audiences as the company had predicted. Case in point: a Madonna concert and a behind-the-scenes offer are among the site's five most popular pieces of content besides films.
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