Cineverse, Criterion Pictures ink deal to expand FAST, AVOD distribution

Cineverse is expanding distribution of its free ad-supported streaming TV and AVOD content with the help of new partner Criterion Pictures.  

Cineverse announced a partnership with Anuvu Operations (does business as Criterion Pictures) to manage and grow both its third-party and owned-and-operated OTT channels to non-theatrical markets such as universities, hospitals, libraries, cruise ships and more.

It involves over a dozen channels, including Cineverse’s The Bob Ross Channel, Fandor, Midnight Pulp, and EntrepreneurTV. All channels are owned and operated or distributed by Cineverse and powered by the company’s Matchpoint delivery technology.

"With our experienced team and long-term relationships, we are excited to deliver these great new additions to colleges and universities along with many of our traditional channels that have been developed over the years," said Suzi Hitchon, VP Operations, Criterion, in a statement.

Cineverse content could end up at a wide variety of non-theatrical locations as a result of the deal, expanding beyond in-home streaming. Criterion, according to its website, works directly with businesses, including a network of U.S. colleges and universities and a variety of healthcare groups, as well as correctional facilities, and cruise and bus lines, among other non-theatrical locations, to license films and content and offers customizable programming options.

“We look forward to expanding our footprint and growing audiences for our channels and there's no better partner in the non-theatrical space than Criterion," said Marc Rashba, EVP of Global Partnerships at Cineverse, in a statement. "Through our commercial expansion strategy, we are able to work closely with our internal content teams and partners like Criterion to engage new audiences beyond the current scope of our FAST and AVOD services."

The deal also allows for title licensing opportunities to Criterion’s land-based North American customers. Criterion also has airline partners. Cineverse previously partnered with the company to deliver its Chinese animated film “Warrior King” around the globe, excluding China, with the film expected to join airlines in November.

Cineverse’s flagship AVOD app by the same name, which launched roughly a year ago, is not yet part of the mix.

Cineverse already distributes its FAST channels and AVOD content to third parties, most recently launching its horror FAST channel Screambox TV on Amazon’s Freevee this month. In the most recent financial quarter the company saw total revenues of $13 million down from $13.6 million, primarily due to the company’s planned wind down of lower-margin streaming channels to focus its resources on higher performing channels.

It saw digital distribution service revenue rise nearly 106% to $3.7 million, attributed to an increase in new release titles and additional library licensing to third-party streaming platforms. It pointed to success of its Screambox horror channel, as well as documentary streaming service Docurama as helping drive total subscribers up to around 1.21 million, contributing to subscription revenues of $3.2 million for the period ending June 30.