Epix, the premium movie channel joint venture between Viacom's Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, added its fifth distributor this week - the National Cable and Telecommunications Cooperative.
On a conference call with analysts to discuss fourth-quarter results, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said the deal would boost the number of homes eligible to receive the service to about 20 million by May.
Epix already has signed on Cox Communications (which plans to launch the service in April), Charter Communications (set for a May launch) and Mediacom Communications (also expected to launch in April). Verizon FiOS was the first to launch the service last October.
The premium channel also is available online with 300 movies (including more than 150 HD films) available to customers. He added that the library will expand to 3,000 titles in the next year and that more distribution deals are forthcoming.
Epix has yet to land the two biggest cable distributors - Comcast and Time Warner Cable - or the two largest satellite TV service providers - DirecTV and Dish Network.
Chief financial officer Tom Dooley would not release details of its distribution deals, but said that Viacom has invested about $82 million in the channel since its inception and has received $110 million in payment for movies it has delivered to the service.
"As we ramp up the distribution, the revenue will start coming in," Dauman said on the call. "We are still targeting to be operating cash flow positive next year for Epix. We are on the trajectory that we expected there."
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