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Content consolidation strikes as Cinedigm nabs Future Today

Just over a month after Cinedigm completed its acquisition of Swiss OTT VoD service Viewster and its subsidiary platform Viewster Anime, the US OTT content and channels partner has gone straight in with another deal, buying video platform Future Today for $45 million in cash and $15 million in Cinedigm common stock. The merger is another sign of consolidation hitting not just OTT video technologies but content too.

What’s most intriguing about the growth of Cinedigm and a key reason why we should keep a close eye on its comings and goings, is the recent declaration that it wants to bring ad-supported content to cable and telco operators, plus OEMs and other digital partners, over the next few quarters – branching out of its OTT fortress. There is a somewhat unnatural trend of OTT content providers bringing content to the traditional cable TV ecosystem, likely driven by demand from operators to revitalize their offerings on withering services – so this is testament to the modern might of the OTT video market.

But before we get ahead of ourselves over future prospects, we note the deal is sizable on a number of fronts, increasing Cinedigm’s OTT footprint to over 7.6 million monthly active users and 67 million total app installs and is expected to be immediately accretive. Future Today says revenues increased by 150% last year to an estimated $23.9 million in full year revenues.

Future Today boasts owning and operating more than 700 content channels, and manages more than 200,000 movies, TV and digital content assets collectively clocking up over 85 million video views a month – although the only coverage-worthy partnership deal has been Comcast Watchable and that crashed and burned quite spectacularly. “Comcast Watchable – anything but” read an October 2015 headline from Faultline Online Reporter, two years before the service was put on life support.

“Future Today’s cloud-based technology and ad-based monetization platform manages OTT services for more than 350 content owners, producers, distributors and major media companies helping them launch and monetize complex connected TV channels across devices in a matter of days,” is the company’s main marketing slogan. We’re not entirely sure what the extra component of these connected TV channels is that makes them more complex than your run of the mill connected TV channel.

Cinedigm says in addition to creating and managing third party channels, it also owns and operates some of the largest channels on OTT platforms. Its flagship channels are kids’ channels Fawesome.tv, providing general movies and TV content, and HappyKids.tv, showing age-specific educational entertainment content on connected TVs.

With Viewster, Cinedigm said content would be combined with its own library, taking over operation of all content, applications, and social assets belonging to both platforms, while ad sales would be handled in-house. So, we can expect a similar state of affairs with the acquisition of Future Today, although the announcement notes Future Today’s co-founders, Alok Ranjan and Vikrant Mathur, will continue heading up Future Today as co-presidents following the expected closer of the deal sometime in Q2 this year, subject to closing conditions.

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