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Premium TV Service Epix Expands to Tablets, Devices

The joint venture service of Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM has worked with Adobe to be on more than 100 devices later this year and also expects to go live with an iPad app in the near future as it looks to stay ahead of the curve of changing media consumption habits.

NEW YORK - Premium TV joint venture Epix has rolled out apps for a slew of tablet computers, mobile phones and other devices in recent weeks as it looks to stay ahead of the curve of changing consumption trends.

In April, the venture of Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM had announced a Google TV app and said it would soon add a range of apps for other digital platforms and devices as it continues to cater to new audience viewing habits in the digital age.

A recent Epix study found that viewers between the ages of 25 to 34 are significantly more likely to use video-capable iPods (24 percent), iPads and tablet computers (21 percent), smartphones (21 percent) and netbooks (15 percent) to watch movies than viewers between 35 and 64 years.

Since its launch in 2009, the service has worked to beef up its offerings not only with digital age-style social viewing tools, which allow users to watch content with friends, but also by bringing them to any screen that viewers want to consume content on.

"This is at the heart of why Epix was created," said chief of staff Nora Ryan. "One of the most important things we do is continuously adapt the movie viewing experience to all emerging devices. It is all rooted in the original vision of adjusting to emerging behavior patterns and going beyond linear TV and the Web. We want to redefine what a premium TV service is."

Without much fanfare, Epix apps have recently become available for the Android platform on the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab and the likes of the BlackBerry PlayBook, Logitech ReVue with GoogleTV, the Boxee Box and Samsung Smart TV, according to the company. Once pay TV subscribers to Epix are authenticated – to prove they are indeed already subscribers via cable or telecom video distributors of Epix – can download the apps for free.

Epix has worked with partner Adobe and its Adobe Flash Platform and app development partner Ensemble on making its service available as widely as possible and making it engaging to the digital age's consumers.

The Epix apps rollout has come as Time Warner's HBO has had much publicized success with the recent launch of its HBO Go app for iPad, iPhone and Android.

Epix expects to be on more than 100 devices later this year, said Ryan. And Apple may soon be part of the mix after the tech giant's refusal to work with Adobe's Flash player in the past made it unclear if and when Epix may come to the iPad and other Apple devices. "We are working on it," said Ryan. "We expect to go live with our iPad app any time now."

After all, as far as proliferating tech gadgets and new platforms go, "we intend to be on all of them," she said.
 
While Epix users online have seen directions to key app downloads, Ryan said Epix will actively promote the apps in collaboration with its pay TV partners over time. "We are working with distributors to explain to them and let them understand how it fits in," she explained. "Rather than running an umbrella ad campaign, we are planning with each distributor."

Younger users are expected to be the biggest Epix users on various devices. Overall, about 13 percent of Epix customers are engaging with devices, according to the company.

Epix expects tablets to be the most popular devices for viewers. "Tablets are well suited to movie viewing, and they have emerged as another screen," said Ryan.

Ray Blaak, chief technology officer at Adobe partner Ensemble, said that ensuring high-quality video on all devices has been the key focus in his firm's work with Epix. "It must all look smooth and immediate," he said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai