Epix Enters the Direct-to-Consumer Streaming Fray
Epix is the latest premium video service to break away from the shackles of the pay-TV package.
MGM-owned Epix on Sunday introduced Epix Now, a standalone, OTT-delivered subscription service that costs $5.99 per month. It's initially being offered on Apple TV (tvOS), iOS and Android platforms, and will be coming soon to Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices. (See Epix Debuts Standalone Subscription Streaming Service.)
The launch marks Epix's move into a standalone, direct-to-consumer streaming market that doesn't require the consumer to attach it to a pay-TV service. Epix wouldn't reveal its subscriber numbers, but confirmed that it currently reaches about 70 million homes through distribution deals with traditional and virtual MVPDs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Charter Communications Inc. , Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), Sling TV , Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) Fios, Cox Communications Inc. , PlayStation Vue and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse.
Notably, Epix is available for sale via The Roku Channel, but it will soon offer Epix Now as a standalone on that platform. Epix currently does not offer its service on Amazon Channels, the subscription VoD aggregation service offered to Amazon Prime customers. (See The Roku Channel Adds One-Click Access to Premium OTT Video Services and Roku Targets Amazon With 'Premium Subscriptions'.)
Epix is adding a direct-to-consumer option to reach broadband-only homes and a growing group of cord-cutters that have given up on traditional pay-TV. In his Q3 report on the cord-cutting market, MoffettNathanson LLC analyst Craig Moffett estimated that there are now about 17 million homes that have cut the cord or have never taken a traditional pay-TV service. (See OTT-TV Gains Slow to a Crawl in Q3, but Cord-Cutting Does Not – Analyst and Broadband-Only Homes to Hit 40M by 2023: Forecast.)
Though Epix is trying to take advantage of this trend as a portion of consumers self-bundle with video, the challenge will be to ensure that Epix is part of that bundle. A recent study from Parks Associates found that 70% of US broadband homes already have at least one OTT service. TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)'s "Video Trends Report" for Q4 2018 found that consumers used an average of 2.75 OTT services (free and paid), up 26% from the year-ago period. (See Consumer Interest in à la Carte Declining – TiVo Study.)
Joining the crowd
Epix is far from alone in targeting a growing market of cord-cutters and broadband-only households. Fellow premium TV services HBO, Showtime and Starz already offer standalone subscription services, and several other programmers and media giants such as AT&T's WarnerMedia, Disney and NBCU have direct-to-consumer products under development. (See Disney's Direct-to-Consumer Effort Isn't Coming Cheap , Can NBCU Crack the Economics of OTT? and Analyst: AT&T Made 'Major Strategic Error' on SVoD Plan.)
The Epix Now service features "thousands" of movies and original series such as Get Shorty, Pennyworth (the origin story of Batman's butler, Alfred); Godfather of Harlem with Forest Whitaker and docu-series PUNK from Iggy Pop. A portion of the Epix Now library is available in 4K/Ultra HD. Epix Now also lets users download titles for offline viewing.
MGM took full ownership of Epix in 2017 after buying out the stakes held by Viacom and Lionsgate for about $1 billion.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading