Digital Cinema Consortium Plans to Acquire Satellite Network

The Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition — a consortium formed by AMC, Cinemark, Regal, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures — signed a letter of intent to acquire the Deluxe/Echostar satellite network in a significant step toward updating the digital delivery of content to theaters and eventually eliminating the need to ship hard drives. Over the next 12-14 months, the consortium will pay to convert 699 Deluxe/Echostar screens to DCDC and add another 300 that were not yet deployed.

The deal will add “nearly 1,000 theater sites to DCDC’s 17,000 committed screens across 1,200 theaters in North America,” writes Carolyn Giardina for The Hollywood Reporter. “The value of the deal was not disclosed.”

“It’s a huge leap forward for DCDC and for the industry,” said DCDC CEO Randy Blotky.

“The agreement provides an opportunity for DCDC to accelerate the growth of its network in a rational and efficacious manner,” he said.

“Until now, Blotky said, Deluxe/Echostar has been both DCDC’s primary service provider and owner of a competing distribution network,” reports Variety. “Many theaters had to have satellite dishes for both networks. With this transaction, some confusion in the d-cinema distribution market should be eliminated, said Blotky. Deluxe/Echostar, formed in 2010, will remain DCDC’s primary service provider under the deal.”

The consortium has been working to deliver content electronically using satellite bandwidth and high-performance servers. DCDC has signed Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, Open Road, Paramount and Sony as content partners, while National Amusements and Southern Theatres have joined as exhibitor customers.

“Blotky said more content providers are in talks and he expects the acquisition will cement DCDC’s relationship with distributors,” notes Variety. “They’ve been putting their wide release and some not-so-wide-release content through us,” he said. “We’ve far exceeded our expectations.”