By Sahil Patel
For a long time, if you were familiar with Cinedigm, you knew the company as a theatrical, home entertainment, and digital distributor of independent films and TV shows. On the digital front, you could find Cinedigm titles on outlets ranging from Netflix and Amazon to iTunes.
Now, the company wants you to look for them on its own platform.
Cinedigm is officially debuting Docurama, a free over-the-top documentary channel that will be available on a slew of internet-connected devices, from computers to tablets, TVs from Samsung, Sony, RCA, and Humax, and streaming set-top boxes including Roku, Xbox, and TiVo Roamio. In total, there will be more than 165 million devices the channel will be accessible on.
Docurama began more than a decade ago as a home-entertainment label for documentary content — one that has amassed a lot of “important documentary films,” says Docurama president Susan Margolin. As technological advancements made it possible for Cinedigm to make a consumer-facing play, the company started thinking of building such a channel.
“Because Docurama was an in-house brand, and one that was starting to gain a fanbase — people were interested in the brand and watched films because they were on the Docurama label — it seemed like a natural fit for a [consumer-facing] channel,” says Margolin.
At launch, Docurama offers more than 600 titles, half of which are available on an exclusive basis, according to Margolin. By July, Margolin says Docurama will have more than 1,000 tiles. In a year’s time, the library will expand to more than 3,000.
And it’s not just feature-length films. Docurama will also offer short-form documentaries, non-fiction TV programming, behind-the-scenes interviews with top “influencers” in the filmmaking community, and sneak peeks and clips from upcoming films, as well as curated film festival coverage.
Content on Docurama will be broken down by genres such as sports, the environment, pop culture, arts and music, human interest, travel and leisure, and war, history, and current events. The channel will also highlight projects from critically-acclaimed and award-winning filmmakers including Alex Gibney, Fred Wiseman, and Stacy Peralta, among others.
Users will also be made aware of titles that are exclusive to Docurama. That said, “one shouldn’t assume that because we’re acquiring a film that it’s going to be exclusive on [Docurama]. We’re a distributor and we want to make sure that we are finding the right content fit for the right platform.”
Available now as an ad-supported channel, Cinedigm has plans to introduce a subscription component “as of the fall,” adds Margolin.
And when it comes to windowing, the company will continue to prioritize pay-TV, SVOD, and TVOD ahead of ad-supported digital platforms.
Cinedigm’s library is comprised of close to 50,000 films and TV episodes, spanning a variety of genres in addition to documentary and non-fiction.
Earlier this year, the company secured a $30 million in new capital — a “war chest” — that it would use to acquire more titles as well as launch a collection of consumer-facing OTT channels. While Margolin declined to disclose which genres will follow Docurama, she said that Cinedigm will focus on those that have very “active” fan-bases.