AMC Networks is making a $65 million investment in BET founder Bob Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment to help RLJ build out its streaming services.
AMC is making loans to RLJ Entertainment, which owns and operates Acorn TV, a streaming service for British mysteries and dramas and UMC (Urban Movie Channel). AMC also gets warrants, which entitle AMC to 50.1% of RLJ Entertainment’s outstanding common stock.
AMC Networks’ support and investment will accelerate the distribution and development of diverse content and independent films from RLJ Entertainment across multiple platforms, including its direct-to-consumer streaming video-on-demand channels, the companies said.
By aligning Acorn TV and UMC with AMC Networks and its channels and film business—including BBC America, WE tv and IFC Films—Acorn TV and UMC will have the potential to cross-promote, develop and distribute content ultimately reaching even more viewers of high-quality British television dramas, urban content, and independent film.
“I am both delighted and excited that RLJ Entertainment is joining with the AMC Networks family to help capitalize on the opportunities that exist to provide consumers with more diverse content across multiple platforms. RLJ Entertainment has a leading position, through Acorn TV with British television programming, and through UMC with quality urban-focused content, and independent films that we will be able to further develop and grow with the capital and support of AMC Networks,” said Johnson.
“We have deep respect for Bob Johnson and the many businesses he’s built, from BET to Acorn TV and UMC,” said Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks. “Much like the early days of cable, and AMC Networks’ own history of providing quality programming to targeted audiences, RLJ Entertainment’s Acorn TV and UMC appeal to consumers with quality programming that represents diverse voices. Our investment is a strategic opportunity to provide capital and additional resources to RLJ Entertainment as they continue to explore their many opportunities for growth, and while we consider the many potentially powerful synergies with our innovative partners at the BBC, and our own WE tv network.”