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AMC to acquire RLJ Entertainment

US cablenet operator AMC Networks is acquiring RLJ Entertainment, the parent company of streaming service Acorn TV, for US$65m.

Josh Sapan

AMC already owns 26% of RLJ and in October 2016 extended a strategic partnership that saw it loan US$65m to the company. That has since increased to US$78m.

A deal for a further 27% of shares not owned by RLJ founder Robert Johnson was first mooted in February. However, the companies announced this week that AMC will now pay US$65m to bring RLJ Entertainment under its umbrella as a direct subsidiary. Johnson will now own a minority stake of 17%.

Johnson has overseen the transition of Acorn TV from a home video and DVD business into an SVoD platform specialising in foreign drama series. Today Acorn announced its third original commission from the UK this year, a mystery drama from the writers of ITV’s Doc Martin.

RLJ also owns and operates UMC (Urban Movie Channel), the first SVoD offering targeting African-American audiences.

In addition, RLJ holds a majority stake in the Agatha Christie literary library, titles from which have been adapted into a slew of dramas by UK pubcaster the BBC.

Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks, said the deal provides his company with “valuable IP opportunities” as well as adding direct-to-consumer offerings to its portfolio.

He added: “This acquisition furthers AMC Networks’ digital strategy by meaningfully accelerating our interests in direct-to-consumer ad-free subscription services that we own and control, in addition to providing us with access to strong IP as we continue to diversify our revenue opportunities, placing AMC Networks in a stronger position over the long term.”


Drama Awards 2019
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