News

FilmBox Movie Channel to Bring Great New Movie Titles from Metro Goldwyn Mayer to the Middle East Region

SPI affiliate Kino Polska S.A, recently inked a new content license agreement with Metro Goldwyn Mayer that aims to deliver an impressive selection of new movie titles to SPI/FilmBox subscribers in the Middle East

The Middle East is one of the fastest growing markets for SPI. One of the main reasons for such success is SPI’s ability to align themselves with key global partners. A newly signed content license agreement with Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) offers access to new movie titles ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to award-winning films to SPI/Filmbox subscribers in the Middle East. The impressive number of new MGM movie titles will provide an enhanced entertainment experience for SPI/Filmbox subscribers of all ages. 

“I’m proud to announce our partnership with one of Hollywood’s biggest movie and media companies, Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Much of my excitement comes from our ability to offer our Middle East subscribers some of the best movies that MGM has ever produced,” said Murat Muratoğlu, Head of Distribution at SPI International.

SPI/Filmbox Middle East subscribers will now have access to MGM movies such as Get Shorty; starring John Travolta, Academy Award-winner Gene Hackman, Rene Russo and Danny DeVito; Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone; Ronin directed by multiple Emmy Award winner John Frankenheimer and starring Academy Award-winner Robert DeNiro; Pink Panther I & II starring Steve Martin, Academy Award-winner Kevin Kline, and Jean Reno; and The Man in the Iron Mask starring Academy Award-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu  and  Gabriel Byrne. This agreement also includes Legally Blonde, Carrie (2013), Robocop, The Thomas Crown Affair and Species I & II amongst some of MGM’s many other global hits.

About SPI International
SPI International is a global media company operating 36 television channels on six continents. SPI is one of the biggest aggregators of native Ultra HD content in the world, FilmBox being its flagship channel. Working with over 1,400 operators worldwide, SPI uses state of the art technology providing its 55 million subscribers with access to SPI’s linear and on demand content including live streaming of UHD programming and FilmBox channels on any Internet-connected device via major global streaming media players as well as local OTT providers.

For over 25 years, SPI International has been a leading distributor of theatrical films and television programming in the international market. SPI’s solid alliances with major license suppliers provide compelling content, with strong recognition and high demand.
www.spiintl.com

About Metro Goldwyn Mayer 
Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television content across all platforms. The company owns one of the world's deepest libraries of premium film and television content as well as the premium pay television network EPIX, which is available throughout the U.S. via cable, satellite, telco and digital distributors.  In addition, MGM has investments in numerous other television channels, digital platforms and interactive ventures and is producing premium short-form content for distribution. For more information, visit www.mgm.com.

For more information contact:
SPI International/FILMBOX 
Michael Glovaski (Glo Creative)
michael@glocreative.com

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Gametoon HD Channel Will Broadcast Esports Balkan League (League of Legends) Exclusively This Summer

Gametoon HD Channel acquired Esports Balkan League (League of Legends), the biggest regional esports league, which will be aired live and exclusively this summer

SPI/FilmBox announced today that it has acquired the exclusive linear and digital rights to the Esports Balkan League (EBL), the first professional esports competition in which the best eight teams from ten European countries compete in a League of Legends tournament for the championship title. 

This summer, viewers can watch EBL (League of Legends) live and exclusively, on SPI/FilmBox’s Gametoon HD channel. Gametoon HD is a worldwide entertainment TV channel for millennials revolving around gaming and esports. Gametoon HD offers a unique experience to its audience along with wholly owned exclusive contents and timeslots such as Stream Nation and eSports tournaments. Gametoon HD is a well-known source of entertainment within the world of gaming. The channel is available worldwide in English and will soon be available in Polish. 

“It is with great pleasure that I announce the SPI/FilmBox’s Gametoon HD channel is the sole carrier of EBL (League of Legends), the biggest regional esports competition featuring the most popular online video game ever,” said Revi Benshoshan, Director of Acquisitions at SPI International.  “It is only fitting that SPI, one of the most strategic and competitive media companies in the world, signed an exclusive license agreement with Fortuna Esports, a prominent player in the field of esports event management. This summer, Gametoon HD is the only channel in the world where you can watch Esports Balkan League (League of Legends).” continued Benshoshan.

Gametoon HD viewers can watch the livestream of EBL (League of Legends) anywhere in the world, starting from June 24 until the finals on August 24, between 19:00 – 23:00 CEST. Season Five of EBL covers ten countries: Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Albania. Among the eight competing teams is last year’s winner, Random 5 from Bulgaria, along with other formidable competitors such as Crvena Zvezda, ASUS, LevelUp, X25, Upper Echelon, The Plan and WiLD.  The league features the teams competing in a double round robin "best-of-1" format throughout the season, with the top four teams advancing to playoffs.

“We are thrilled about our partnership with SPI/FilmBox and because Esports Balkan League will be available to an even wider audience through Gametoon HD in its upcoming fifth season,” said Mihajlo Jovanović-Džaril, Founder and CEO of Fortuna Esports. “Our region is home to many great gaming talents and it has been our mission to bring them under the spotlight. This deal is doing exactly that.” continued Jovanović-Džaril.

League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game and is recognized as the most played video game in the world with over hundred million plays every month. EBL is one of Europe's thirteen ERLs leagues and it is officially endorsed by Riot Games, the developer and publisher of League of Legends. This year, the top eight Balkan teams will compete for an aggregate prize pool of 40.000 Euros.

About SPI International
SPI International is a global media company operating 36 television channels on six continents. SPI is one of the biggest aggregators of native Ultra HD content in the world, FilmBox being its flagship channel. Working with over 1,400 operators worldwide, SPI uses state of the art technology providing its 55 million subscribers with access to SPI’s linear and on demand content including live streaming of UHD programming and FilmBox channels on any Internet-connected device via major global streaming media players as well as local OTT providers.

For over 25 years, SPI International has been a leading distributor of theatrical films and television programming in the international market. SPI’s solid alliances with major license suppliers provide compelling content, with strong recognition and high demand. www.spiintl.com

About Fortuna Esports
Fortuna Esports is the regional leader in Southeast Europe when it comes to esports. It handles event organization, studio and video production as well as TV and online streaming for international tournaments. Fortuna is the first regional broadcaster to acquire rights for premium esports content with the Riot Games' LoL Esports tournament circuit, Dota 2 The International and CS:GO Majors.

Along with premium esports programming, Fortuna's portfolio includes unique entertainment shows created for local audience as well as the biggest regional esports league – Esports Balkan League.

For more information contact:
SPI International/FILMBOX 
Marc Weissman (Glo Creative)

marc@glocreative.com

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SPI/FilmBox Profile on C21Media

SCHEDULE WATCH PROFILE: While the latest talk has focused on the consolidation and roll-out of global OTT giants, players like SPI International are proving there’s still plenty of growth for independents. Gün Akyuz reports.

Berk Uziyel
Berk Uziyel

Overview
Since launching in 1991, US-registered SPI International has amassed a worldwide footprint of 36 thematic channels, led by flagship movie brand FilmBox. The company is now approaching 60 million subscribers on the back of its latest addition, Timeless Drama Channel (TDC), and is aiming to hit 100 million over the next three years.

With offices and subsidiaries in 20-plus countries, SPI spreads its activities end-to-end, from a portfolio of pay and free-to-air (FTA) channels and digital services to related content acquisitions and third-party content distribution. It has also moved into content production for the first time via a new partnership with French movie producer and director Philippe Martinez, covering movies and TV series.

Key to SPI’s business is its library of more than 6,000 movies and series, while it also claims to be one of the world’s biggest aggregators of native ultra-HD content.

Movie brand Filmbox, which itself spans a range of sub-brands (Premium, Plus, Extra, Family, Action, Russia, Africa, Arthouse), is available on demand as FilmBox Live and is also carried on global streamer Amazon Prime and local OTT services.

SPI’s link-up with Philippe Martinez has led to shows such as Salvage Marines
SPI’s link-up with Philippe Martinez has led
to shows such as Salvage Marines

Alongside FilmBox and movies, SPI covers a growing range of entertainment categories, from drama series, comedy, documentaries and lifestyle to live sports and music, across channel brands FunBox UHD, GameToon, Docubox, FightBox, FashionBox, Fast&FunBox and now TDC.

SPI’s strongest market is Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), which accounts for around half of all its subscribers. However, the company has identified significant further growth potential in the Adriatic/Balkan region, as well as Western and Northern Europe, and has experienced rapid growth in Turkey and the Middle East and North Africa. SPI channels are also present in North and South America, Asia and Africa via a network of partnerships with more than 1,400 operators.

State-of-the-art technology is embedded into SPI’s strategy. “Our company is an early adopter of digital transformation,” says CEO Berk Uziyel. “We provide a VoD service that offers a huge library of HD content, featuring more than 1,000 movies and series.

“We also provide a multi-screen on-demand service for all devices and platforms so that our viewers can access premium content on their preferred devices,” he says, noting the “undeniable and essential” added value VoD and OTT brings to the business.

While the majority of SPI’s channels’ business is still linear, digital now represents approximately 20% of its activity, with apps for linear and VoD growing fast through its partner operators, according to the company.

“The last 12 months have been very exciting for us in our efforts to expand our digital business,” says Uziyel, highlighting new partnerships and expanded existing agreements with Iflix in Asia, SMG in China, The Times of India and Sony in the same country, Ipla in Poland, Ooredoo in Oman, UPC in CEE, Magyar Telekom in Hungary and Skylink in the Czech Republic.

Crime action-adventure trilogy Mr Mayfair
Crime action-adventure trilogy Mr Mayfair

Uziyel says further vertical and horizontal growth is on the cards at SPI, with a couple of as-yet-undisclosed acquisitions and integrations in new territories expected very soon.

“We are always looking for opportunities to expand our footprint across the globe through the distribution of our channels in new territories. Although one of our biggest challenges is the increasing number of competitors, we strive to produce and acquire fresh, cutting-edge programming, which continuously keeps us one step ahead,” the exec explains.

The company sees its move into production via the Martinez link-up, which was unveiled at MipTV in April, as a natural next step in its growth plans. The partnership includes four TV series, the first of which, Salvage Marines, is currently in production. Adapted from the book by Sean-Michael Argo, the action sci-fi show is being produced with Jamie Thompson and Jake Seal from Village Studios.

The deal also includes movies such as crime action-adventure trilogy Mr Mayfair, about a former New York gangster now living the good life in London’s wealthy Mayfair area. The films are being directed by Martinez and produced in partnership with British producer Alan Latham and Kirsty Bell’s Goldfinch Studios.

SPI International president Loni Farhi says the partnership is currently reaching out to other potential collaborators around the world with experience in international coproduction and talent already in place. “This is a new challenge for us, but our well-seasoned partner Philippe Martinez is leading the way for us,” says Farhi. “Mr Mayfair is already an international coproduction, while we are looking for partners in France, Poland, Romania, Hungary or Bulgaria for Miss Willoughby & Bentley, a project we would like to talk about once further information is set.”


TDC offers new content including Kurt Seyit & Shura

Current programming, acquisitions, drama, factual
This spring’s arrival of TDC marked a significant addition to SPI’s portfolio. Billed as the first global channel for Turkish drama and launched in partnership with leading Turkish prodco Ay Yapim, it offers around 500 hours of fresh content. Titles on offer include Karadayi, Black Money Love and Kurt Seyit & Shura.

TDC has so far rolled out in more than 10 countries, including those in the Adriatic and Balkan region, attracting in excess of one million subscribers. A launch in Western Europe is being prepared, although details were under wraps at the time of writing.

Farhi describes the channel as the “ultimate platform for connecting drama genre lovers,” adding that it will offer an “expanding catalogue of award-winning Turkish TV dramas with stories of passion, love and ambition.”

He continues: “In the last couple of years, Turkish drama series have taken the world by storm. Every year, we see dozens of new Turkish drama series being produced and exported to over 140 countries. These programmes are being watched by more than 400 million people around the world, and this incredible demand from viewers has made Turkey the second largest TV series exporter in the world after the US.”

Beyond Turkish drama and movies, SPI’s channels require thousands of hours of content annually.

FunBox UHD offers event programmes such as a 4K production of La Bohème
FunBox UHD offers event programmes such as a 4K production of La Bohème

Thematic factual channel DocuBox alone offers more than 1,100 hours of programming, with 250-plus hours of new content each year across wildlife, people and culture, travel and current affairs shows. Key suppliers include Zed, France Télévisions, ORF, Canamedia and Storyteller. Its line-up includes library titles such as feature docs Alaska: Spirit of the Wild and Africa: The Serengeti, both of which previously played in IMAX cinemas; plus Zed’s 52-minute doc Urgan: Child of the Himalaya.

General entertainment channel FunBox UHD, meanwhile, spans genres from travel and nature to lifestyle, arts and culture, as well as featuring TV series and movies. Titles range from lifestyle programme The Boat Show to Flamenco Passion, showcasing flamenco culture, festivals and events. It also hosts event programming like cinematic opera La Bohème, a 4K production from DBW Communication in coproduction with Rai Com. The show was directed by Ettore Scola for the 60th edition of the Puccini Festival in Italy.

“As you can imagine, the diverse nature of our branches of operation and our extensive footprint across CEMEA markets require a distinct approach to content development and targeted acquisition tactics,” says Farhi.

“We operate 80 different feeds across the globe, localised in 19 languages. In the case of pay channels and branded FilmBox channels with feeds across CEE and CIS, our strategy is centred on acquiring current blockbusters that have hit the theatres in recent months. Our library of content also thrives on ‘evergreens’ – movies that are timeless and can accommodate multiple viewings from audiences of all ages.”

Zed’s documentary Urgan: Child of the Himalaya
Zed’s documentary Urgan: Child of the Himalaya

Recent driver content includes premium box-office hits like La La Land and The Upside, as well as newly released movies like General Commander, starring Steven Seagal; Russian Chinese fantasy adventure Journey to China, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger; and action-thriller Killerman, starring Liam Hemsworth.

Farhi also highlights SPI’s broader content strategy across scripted and factual genres with its two FTA channels in Poland. The country is key market for SPI, which is the fifth largest media company in Poland through its majority ownership of Kino Polska TV, which runs two FTA digital terrestrial channels: film net Stopklatka TV and Zoom TV, which offer a mix of documentaries, movies and series. Its pay TV channels in Poland are Kino Polska, Kino Polska Muzyka and FilmBox.

Elsewhere on the scripted front, recent acquisitions for SPI’s thematic channels in CEE countries range from series like History Channel’s Knights Templar drama Knightfall, filmed in the Czech Republic and Croatia, to The Young Pope and Picnic at Hanging Rock. On the factual front, SPI closed a deal with Franco-German cultural channel Arte just ahead of MipTV for a collection of docs under Arte’s 360 Geo brand.

History Channel’s Knights Templar drama Knightfall
History Channel’s Knights Templar drama Knightfall

“One of the many ways we cater to individual countries is by making our programmes available in a particular country’s native tongue,” says Farhi, listing 19 languages, including English, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Brazilian, Arabic and Russian.

SPI is currently further localising channels in its various markets with the addition of more local content and hosts, along the lines of GameToon in Poland, says Uziyel.

The company is on the lookout for new content partnerships across its portfolio at markets such as Natpe Budapest and beyond. “Natpe Budapest is one of the most important markets in the world to buy and sell our content and channels, while the Mip markets are vital to our global growth strategy,” says Farhi.

Advising on SPI’s acquisition needs, he says the firm partners with global content companies and local independent producers alike. “We strive to provide our viewers with the premium content they demand. Therefore, we are constantly on the lookout for fresh, cutting-edge programming to add to our vast library of content.”

Gün Akyuz
Research editor, C21Media

gun@c21media.net
www.c21media.net
C21Media Ltd, 2nd Floor, 148 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3AT
T +44  (0) 207 729 7460 | DD +44 (0) 207 701 9521/9604 | M +44 (0) 7795 468631 | Skype gakyuz

C21MEDIA

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SPI/FilmBox’s Gametoon HD Channel Launches in Portugal In A New Partnership With MEO

SPI/FilmBox launches its gaming channel made by Gamers for Gamers, Gametoon HD, with a brand new partnership with MEO of Portugal

Gametoon HD is a worldwide entertainment TV channel for millennials revolving around gaming and eSports. The Gametoon HD channel features highlights of popular video games, entertainment content from gaming youtubers, video game tournaments (eSports) with million dollar prize pools and much more. Gametoon HD offers a unique experience to its audience along with wholly owned exclusive contents and timeslots such as Stream Nation and eSports tournaments. In respect to its exclusivity, Gametoon HD is recognized as a well-known source of entertainment within the world of gaming. SPI and MEO wanted to harness the DNA of the channel as an authentic place for gamers, that cultivates a gaming community and culture outside of the one-to-one PC environment, through embracing gaming as a real sporting and social experience.  

“Gametoon HD has offered us a unique opportunity to partner with MEO and to create a channel that will really resonate with the gaming community. In addition to this channel, Gametoon App has also launched on the platform housing our wholly owned content. We had a shared vision and intent for Gametoon HD and this is just the first step to meeting this goal. Together, we are bringing Gametoon HD to Portugal, in a big way” said Georgina Twiss, MD Western Europe & Africa at SPI International.

About MEO
MEO is the TV operator of Altice Portugal, a Portuguese communications company that integrates Altice Europe (ATC & ATCB), listed on Euronext Amsterdam, a convergent leader in telecoms, content, media, entertainment and advertising. Altice delivers innovative, customer-centric products and solutions that connect and unlock the limitless potential of its over 30 million customers over fiber networks and mobile broadband. Altice is also a provider of enterprise digital solutions to millions of business customers. Altice innovates with technology, research and development and enables people to live out their passions by providing original content, high-quality and compelling TV shows, and international, national and local news channels. Altice delivers live broadcast premium sports events and enables its customers to enjoy the most well-known media and entertainment. 

About SPI International

SPI International is a global media company operating 36 television channels on six continents. SPI is one of the biggest aggregators of native Ultra HD content in the world, FilmBox being its flagship channel. Working with over 1,400 operators worldwide, SPI uses
  
state of the art technology providing its 55 million subscribers with access to SPI’s linear and   on demand content including live streaming of UHD programming and FilmBox channels on   any Internet-connected device via major global streaming media players as well as local OTT providers.

For over 25 years, SPI International has been a leading distributor of theatrical films and television programming in the international market. SPI’s solid alliances with major license suppliers provide compelling content, with strong recognition and high demand.
www.spiintl.com

For more information contact:

SPI  International/FilmBox
Marc Weismann (Glo Creative)
marc@glocreative.com

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