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MGM, Lionsgate buy into free VOD service

US studios Lionsgate Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer have taken equity stakes in ad-supported VOD service Tubi TV.

Farhad MassoudiThe agreement means both studios will now supply movies to the adRise-owned service, which is currently only available in the US but soon hits Canada through a recent deal with Blue Ant Media.

Feature films confirmed include Midnight Cowboy, Crash, Rain Man, The Hurt Locker, Pink Panther, Fargo and American Psycho.

They will join Tubi TV’s 40,000-strong library of films and television shows, which have been acquired from more than 200 distributors.

Cota Capital is also becoming an investor, and Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow is joining Tubi TV’s board of directors.

Tubi TV’s other investors include Foundation Capital, Bobby Yazdani, Mark Amin, and Noosheen and Zod Nazem.

For Lionsgate, the move is its latest venture into the VOD space, coming after it last year agreed to launch an own-brand SVOD player, Lionsgate Entertainment World, with China’s Alibaba.

“This agreement reflects our ongoing commitment to license our content across an expanding array of ad-supported digital platforms and serve next generation audiences around the world,” said Lionsgate president, worldwide television and digital distribution Jim Packer.

MGM for the most part to this point has settled for selling its content to VOD platforms, recently licensing rights to the entire James Bond movie library to China’s Tencent.

“MGM’s investment and license agreements enable the studio to expand into OTT services, allowing consumers to find MGM films and series on multiple platforms,” said John Bryan, the studio’s president, domestic television distribution.

Following announcement of the new equity parters, Tubi TV’s CEO, Farhad Massoudi, vowed the platform would “always be free”, adding: “Tubi TV’s mission is to make premium content accessible to everyone, everywhere, without having to pay more.”

The company released statistics claiming viewership numbers had increased 400% in the past year.