EPIX, unlike counterparts HBO, Showtime and Starz, says it has no plans to launch a direct-to-consumer over-the-top service. EPIX CEO Mark Greenberg spoke with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about the Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate-owned network’s digital plans. Greenberg also offered his assessment of the OTT marketplace. An edited excerptof their conversation follows.
NTV: What are EPIX’s biggest challenges from a distribution standpoint?
Mark Greenberg: We still have a couple of big distribution deals to do and we hope to get those done soon. We’re here to work with all of our clients to make sure that they grow their businesses, and we think that’s the best way to go.
Are people cord-cutting?
I haven’t seen the statistics to support that. Yes, there is a little hairpin turn, but we’ve now conditioned viewers to look for commercial-free programming, and we sit in that sweet spot in a huge way. We have a library of over 2,000 movies that’s on our website in addition to what’s on our four linear channels and 300 movies on our set-top on demand business. So we feel optimistic about where the business is going — we think we’re priced more effectively than our competitors, so for us we bring a very different dimension. We encourage our clients to low-price pay and go for volume, and they’re doing it.
NTV: Given that, is there a need to offer an OTT service?
MG: The jury is still out. I think the problem with the OTT space is, it’s becoming highly fragmented — the average household is watching about 17 to 18 channels out of however many they have available.
Our research suggests that that younger audience, when they become aware of the fact that not only can they watch [cablenetwork content] on the TV but also on a device, that they’re more inclined to subscribe. We think that’s really an enormous opportunity for all of us to build off of that.
Netflix, other than doing originals, is nothing more than TV Everywhere. There’s nothing there that hasn’t been on every MVPD. The mistake we all made is that we didn’t mine that business together.
Netflix built this multibillion-dollar business and we all shared in it. The question is, how do we go after this world in digital and build it together as opposed to putting a wall up? That’s the broader opportunity for everyone.
NTV: If not OTT, are you willing to continue to participate in “skinny bundles,” like you’ve done with Dish’s Sling TV?
MG: We’re big supporters of Dish’s Sling. We think you have to do things like that in this environment. We’re also on Sony PlayStation Vue. I think that it’s a matter of working with the MVPDs — we’ve been enormously supportive of the clients that we think we can build and grow.