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Indie Syndie: TV Everywhere Is a 'Smart' Move

Entertainment Studios goes global with subscription service 12/03/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

One advantage to owning the
rights to all of your own content is
having the ability to distribute it any
way you want. That’s why Entertainment Studios—
producer and distributor of such syndicated
shows as America’s Court With Judge
Ross
and We the People With Gloria Allred—is
in the process of launching Smart TV, which
offers an online subscription to all of Entertainment
Studios’ networks.

“Smart TV is a global television platform,”
says Byron Allen, founder, chairman and
president of Entertainment Studios, located in
Los Angeles. “This is the first platform where
you can watch our live television networks or
our content on-demand on every device you
have anywhere in the world. Nobody else can
achieve television everywhere because no one owns all of their content.”

To subscribe to the service, customers sign up at SmartTV.com, choosing
which networks they want to access. Each network costs $1.99 per
month, and ES eventually plans to offer 10 networks for $9.99 per
month. Allen says his ultimate goal is 50-plus niche networks that offer
shows across all sorts of topics.

Once someone is subscribed to Smart TV, they can log on to the service
from any device with a browser and an Internet connection.

“We’re nothing more than additive to whatever television you already
subscribe to,” Allen says. “In the future, we think that’s how people will
get their TV. They may have two or three networks off of Smart TV, along
with Netflix or Hulu or other services. We are just part of the overall
TV landscape.”

Entertainment Studios plans to start heavily promoting the service in
the first quarter of next year, although it has been up and running on
the website for nearly a year now.

The company offers seven high-de! nition television networks, which
are carried on Verizon’s FiOS TV and a few other TV services domestically.
Last spring, Entertainment Studios signed
a deal with Vivicast Media to distribute the
networks internationally. Each network carries
shows that ES produces and distributes in
broadcast syndication, such as The American
Athlete
, Comics Unleashed and Entertainers With
Byron Allen
.

Video offerings from each of the networks
are also featured at www.es.tv. Entertainment
Studios has long offered its seven nichefocused
networks: Cars.TV, MyDestination.
TV, ES.TV, Recipe.TV, Comedy.TV, Pets.TV
and Legacy.TV. The company also has entered
the court-show business in the past two years,
with three court shows sold in syndication—
America’s Court With Judge Ross, We the People
With Gloria Allred
and Justice for All With Judge
Cristina Perez
. Last week ES announced a new, fourth show, Supreme Justice
With Judge Karen
. That show’s host, Judge Karen Mills-Francis, had previously
hosted syndicated court shows produced by Sony Pictures Television
and then Litton. This year, ES also debuted two scripted sitcoms, The First
Family
and Mr. Box Office, which air on Comedy.TV on Thursday and
Friday nights, as well as on TV stations.

None of Entertainment Studios’ shows draw high ratings on their
own—at a 0.9 season-to-date household average, America’s Court is its
highest-rated show—but the distributor makes money by selling most
of its shows to TV stations in blocks and then selling advertisements into
each show in those blocks. This is not true for the court shows, however.

While Entertainment Studios may not be producing hits like CBS Television
Distribution’s Judge Judy or Wheel of Fortune, it has been the little studio
that could since Allen launched it in 1993 as CF Entertainment. As Allen is
fond of pointing out, no ES show has ever been cancelled.

E-mail comments to palbiniak@gmail.com
and follow her on Twitter: @PaigeA

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