LOS ANGELES , Sept. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Taking advantage of the newopportunities created by the recent growth in high definition broadcasting,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) will launch its first wholly-ownedchannel in the United States , achieving its long-time goal of breaking intothe channel business in the world's largest marketplace. The announcement wasmade today by Harry E. Sloan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at MGM.
In a breakthrough agreement, MGM HD, a new 24/7 linear network deliveringa robust library of classic and contemporary films in high definition, willlaunch this fall on DIRECTV, Inc., the nation's leading satellite televisionservice provider. While the MGM HD channel heralds the studio's first forayinto domestic channel operations, the MGM channel is currently available innearly 120 countries across the globe, including an MGM HD channel in Poland which launched last year.
MGM HD will provide consumers with the ultimate home viewing experience inthe fast growing high definition market. MGM HD's tagline -- "the way movieswere meant to be seen" -- accentuates the consumer proposition that highdefinition gives to films. MGM HD will feature a plethora of movie genresthat will appeal to a growing and diverse audience craving to watch qualitymovies in high definition. Among its initial high definition screenings willbe Academy Award(R)-winning films such as "The Black Stallion," "UsualSuspects," "Leaving Las Vegas ," and "West Side Story" as well as audiencefavorites "Hotel Rwanda ," "Throw Momma From The Train" and "RoboCop."
Backed by the world's largest modern film library, consisting of more than4,100 film titles and winner of 209 Academy Awards(R), MGM HD will have adistinct advantage over the competition in the expanding HD marketplace. Inaddition to classic MGM theatrical hits, MGM HD will be the ultimate resourcefor serious movie fans, offering viewers an array of original programming andnew content. Audiences can look forward to exclusive behind the scenescoverage of red carpet events, sneak peeks at new films in production,seasonal promotions and world premieres of newly re-mastered hits from the MGMlibrary.
MGM HD will evolve into a strategically valuable asset for the studio asit will provide a "touch point" for the MGM brand, allowing cross promotionaland advertising opportunities as well as programming synergies among alldivisions of the company.
"The growth of the MGM library and the further expansion of the MGMchannels worldwide are the studio's primary objectives," said Sloan. "Byconverting MGM's sizable library to high definition, we've developed asustainable business model for an MGM HD Channel in the U.S. We are alsofortunate to have Doug Lee , our digital media executive, who also hasextensive channels experience, to spearhead the HD opportunity for us. Webelieve that as these new technologies and platforms emerge, they will beinstrumental in adding overall value to the studio."
Sloan, who came to the studio Chairmanship after more than a decade inglobal television, is one of the few studio heads to have significantexperience in creating worldwide broadcast platforms. Building SBSBroadcasting, S.A. from a single TV station in Scandinavia to a pan-Europeanmedia empire, Sloan has hands-on knowledge of channel operations and theopportunities made possible through digital and high definition broadcasting.With the launch of MGM HD, Sloan is positioning MGM to participate intechnology changes that shape the new landscape in the media world.
The U.S. launch of MGM HD was spearheaded by Jim Packer , Co-President,Worldwide Television and Douglas A. Lee, Executive Vice President, WorldwideDigital Media, MGM.
In commenting on the launch, Packer stated: "The response from cable,satellite and telco companies to the MGM HD channel has been resoundinglypositive. Given the breadth and depth of our library, there are many uniqueprogramming opportunities that we can bring to movie lovers all over the U.S.Our programming vision is to grow the channel's breadth beyond our filmlibrary with original and unique HD content."
Lee added: "Given the importance of the MGM HD initiative, we are verypleased to have DIRECTV as our initial launch partner and look forward toannouncing additional carriage agreements in the near future. As for thegrowth potential of the channel, MGM HD will become a significant brandextension and allow us to develop fantastic synergies with the studio's yearlyslate of movies."
Derek Chang , Executive Vice President, Programming and Strategy, DIRECTVstated: "With the launch of up to 100 HD channels by the end of this year,DIRECTV is taking HD to a level that can't be found on any other multichannelprovider in the country, MGM's brand recognition and entertainment assets willbring incredible value and we are excited to have them as a part of our HDlineup."
MGM predicts that as cable and satellite operators in the US drivepenetration of HD services, MGM HD is in position to secure increased carriagefrom overall growth in the HD universe. Industry reports estimate that the HDuniverse will reach in excess of 40 million homes by 2012.
Over the last several years, MGM has focused on growing its channelbusiness in the global marketplace. Currently, there are nearly 20 separatefeeds of MGM channels outside the U.S., in various languages, reaching scoresof markets across the Latin America, Europe , the Middle East , Africa , Asia andthe Pacific Rim. Just last October, MGM launched its first HD channelinternationally in Poland . With extensive experience in programming andmarketing these channels, MGM is ready to capitalize on the opportunities innew emerging HD market in the US marketplace.
DIRECTV, Inc., the nation's leading satellite television service provider,presents the finest television experience available to more than 16.3 millioncustomers in the United States , through exclusive content, industry-leadingcustomer satisfaction (which has surpassed cable for seven years running) andsuperior technologies. Each day, DIRECTV subscribers enjoy access to over 250channels of 100% digital picture and sound, exclusive programming and the mostcomprehensive collection of sports programming available anywhere, includingNFL SUNDAY TICKET(TM) and MLB EXTRA INNINGS(R). DIRECTV (NYSE: DTV) also leadsthe digital television technology revolution with exclusives such as NFLSUNDAY TICKET SuperFan(TM), US Open Interactive and YES Network Interactiveand will soon have the capacity to offer over 150 channels in HD. For themost up-to-date information on DIRECTV, please visit directv.com . DIRECTVcurrently reports 1.5 million HD subscribers and expects to reach 5 million HDsubscribers by year end 2008.