New HBO competitor to go live on the web before making TV debut

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A CNET News/Wall Street Journal report is saying that a new premium movie channel, which will compete with HBO and Showtime in the US, will premiere as a on-demand movie streaming website months before making its launch on TV.

The channel, called Epix, is owned by a consortium of MGM, Paramount Pictures and Lions Gate; and was announced on Tuesday at the NATPE conference in Las Vegas. The channel will feature more than 15,000 movies from all three studios’ libraries – but the channel is set to launch in October, and according to NYT, it has not been picked up by any carriers yet.

The channel will also produce original programming, and broadcast live concert performances – in line with competitors HBO and Showtime.

It will also launch a website that will bring the movies on-demand and streamed from the web, similar to movies from Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox on Hulu (Co-owned by their parent companies – NBC Universal and News Corporation); giving them an advantage over HBO and Showtime as they own their content and are not restricted by contracts. The website will be a subscription-only website.

This comes after a deal fell through between Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, and CBS’ Showtime channel in 2007 after it wasn’t renewed. Both Paramount and Showtime were under one umbrella, known as Viacom, before demerging to form CBS Corporation and Viacom. During the deal, Showtime paid Paramount more than $100 million to carry their films.

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