Lessons 2013: Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk On Embracing Digital Distribution Of All Kinds

“When movie theatres became the last media to transform from analog (film) to digital, enormous opportunities were created for content distribution. Currently, over 80% of theatres are digital and these new systems - for the first time – can be programmed like iTouches, with content as diverse as lectures and matinee series, indie film night, concerts, and 3D LIVE sporting events. We’re focused on delivering those experiences and filling theatres seats that are empty upwards of 90% of the time.

“But the critical lesson we absorbed in 2012 is that today’s consumers expect content where and when they want it. If Cinedigm was to be a vital part of the content pipeline we needed to embrace and control all viewing solutions – from movie theatres to mobile devices to iTunes and other platforms. Theatres are clearly a very important part of the distribution equation. Nothing captures the attention of the viewing public quite like a theatrical release. But theatres are no longer the only platform that matters. To ignore the changing digital landscape and emerging digital options would be a huge financial mistake.”

On applying this lesson:

“We acquired New Video, the largest digital aggregator in the U.S. Overnight, we became an end-to-end entertainment distribution company with enormous strength in theatres and dominance in digital ancillaries. For one of our first acquisitions, The Invisible War, a documentary exposing the epidemic of sexual assault in the U.S. military, we devised a traditional platform release in theatres and subsequently landed on iTunes, Netflix, other digital outlets and blu-ray/DVD. The film has made a real impact across the judicial ecosystem of the U.S. military and created tangible changes in the way sexual assault cases are investigated and prosecuted. Without controlling all parts of this puzzle, Cinedigm never could have helped the film become such an agent for social change.”

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