French digital cinema integrator Ymagis and electronic content delivery group Smartjog have established a joint venture for content delivery to cinemas. Ymagis will hold 60 per cent of the new venture and Smartjog 40 per cent. Smartjog is a subsidiary of TDF. The new entity will be in operation by end 2013. Ymagis delivers hard drives to cinemas from its own labs in Paris, Barcelona and (soon to open) Berlin, up to a level of 25,000 DCPs in 2012. Smartjog has been an active and pioneering provider of fibre and satellite delivery into cinemas (current network is 1,600 sites covering 6,000 screens and latest volume data is 26,000 DCPs in 2012). These backgrounds complement each other well for an integrated service according to the market infrastructure and the budget of the distributor. The company will already have a network of 1,800 sites (8,000 screens) when it launches, building on their existing business which could make it a market leader in coverage terms, although it could be argued that other companies do higher volumes than this and also have a proposed service in the market. Either way, the new company starts out in the major league. The venture will focus on France at first, expanding to other countries where they are present soon after. In practical terms, the Smartjog Gateway will be integrated into the Ymagis Central Server. Following this, Smartjog software will be loaded directly onto the server which will also make the server a gateway.
Ymagis is a leading digital cinema integrator and is well placed to build on their existing relationships with distributors and exhibitors. The company is strong in its home territory of France, also in Spain and several other smaller countries. Smartjog is active in a range of territories, again strong in France but also elsewhere in Europe. The new venture is not aiming to back one delivery format, as some others have done, but instead is focusing on the end-result (delivering the content) and will be able to choose the appropriate method to get it there, providing an end-to-end solution from lab to screen. This choice will depend on cost, film type and size, technology infrastructure of the country and the cinema in question, customer budgets and various other factors.
This new venture adds to the growing number of companies aiming to be a player in the electronic distribution of content (movies, advertising, trailers, and alternative content) around Europe. With DCDC dominating the North American market, attention has turned to delivering content in Europe and a number of operations have been developing, announced or being worked on. Some ventures, such as Smartjog, Argiva, Gofilex, Dsat, Globecast, have been in place for some time and have been matching their growth with the development of digital cinema in the market place but others are newer. These include the Deluxe fibre network announced earlier this year (and also recently signed a network delivery agreement with Hughes Europe for 3,000 screens initially, rising to 8,600 over time). A newer addition is the fibre/ADSL-based service launched by Motion Picture Solutions, one of the main providers of hard drive distribution in UK and Europe, in association with LANsat. Another company working in this space is Flix, which grew out of the retail sector. There is also a government-backed solution built by Unique Digital (known as Movie Transit) in place in Norway building on the single market approach taken to digitise the country's cinemas.