IMAX Makes Move Into Streaming By Buying SSIMWave For $21 Million

IMAX Corp. said it acquired streaming video technology company SSIMWave for $21 million.

IMAX said the deal will enable it to deliver higher-quality video images on any screen, providing new revenue opportunities and bolstering its position in entertainment technology. 

SSIMWave logo

Through its SSIMPlus products, SSIMWave helps the streaming industry solve video quality problems, earning it Emmy and NAB awards. SSIMWave’s technology — which uses artificial intelligence to replicate the human eye — helps services assess video quality at sale, minimize drop-offs and reduce distribution expenses.

“SSIMWave is doing revolutionary work at the intersection of human visual perception and image enhancement technology. By putting the power of our global brand behind their award-winning engineering team and product suite, IMAX takes a big step toward a new horizon in our ability to deliver the best images for any creator, across every screen,” said IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond. “In the near-term, SSIMWAVE brings to IMAX new, SaaS-based revenue and a world-class client roster that tightly aligns with some of our strongest, most successful content partnerships.”

Four of the world’s top-ten streaming media companies — including The Walt Disney Co., Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery — currently work with with SSIMWave to optimize video. Many of those are also among IMAX’s long-standing content partners.

The acquisition is expected to be accretive in 2023 and have no material impact in 2022, IMAX said. 

“Viewers and content creators expect more from video experiences. By joining IMAX, SSIMWAVE will be even better positioned to preserve creators’ intent and enable engaging, differentiated viewing experiences to millions of users across platforms,” said Dr. Abdul Rehman, CEO of SSIMWave. “We’re excited to join IMAX and tap into its global scale and expertise as more streamers turn to SSIMWave to ensure the best viewing experiences while reducing bandwidth costs.”

Under terms of the agreement, SSMIWave’s owners can receive a $4 million earnout based on the unit’s operating and financial performance.

Rehman will continue to run SSMIWave as a subsidiary of Imax. All of the company’s other founders, management and executives will remain after the acquisition is complete, SSIMWave said. 

SSIMWave was founded at Ontario’s University of Waterloo in 2013, based on the structural similarity algorithm for assessing visibility errors. The company has raised $1.6 million in equity financing, with the last round occurring in June 2019. The company has 11 equity investors, plus Fed Dev, which provided a $4.2 million (Canadian) interest-free loan. 

Investors include the University of Waterloo, OCI and Wilfrid Laurier University & Garage Capital. ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.