European digital cinema network Ymagis has agreed to acquire the cinema assets of UK based satellite provider Arqiva. The deal will see Ymagis acquire the satellite receivers installed and managed by Arqiva in 774 cinemas across 10 European territories, of which 378 are located in the UK and 137 in Italy. This strategically gives the group further inroads into the Spanish and Italian cinema markets and its first foothold in the UK and Ireland. The deal will therefore significantly strengthen its presence across Europe, adding to its 1,964 existing cinemas across nine Western European territories
Ymagis is therefore positioning itself as the leading provider of digital delivery to cinemas in Western Europe, following its recent acquisition of Smartjog in late 2013. Smartjog Ymagis Logistics is a full service provider of digital content delivery to cinemas including DCPs, trailers, advertising and KDMs across a variety of distribution pipelines including satellite, ADSL, broadband and hard drives.
The deal shows how the installed cinema assets of Arqiva are most valuable to a specialist digital cinema player rather than a general network operator. The acquisition also shows how the cinema distribution sector is ripe for consolidation as the digital cinema roll out draws to a close and attention focuses on managing the delivery of content. Arqiva has therefore now exited the cinema space after first entering the market through an agreement with Arts Alliance Media back in 2008.
Ymagis offers an agnostic approach in regards to the delivery method but one that ultimately is aimed at enhanced cost savings as well as flexibility for both distributors and exhibitors. The number of satellite linked cinemas has yet to build sufficient scale in Europe and therefore a hybrid solution currently offers the greater coverage. The deal will therefore enable greater cost savings by enlarging the scope of Ymagis’s satellite coverage and more crucially provides further scale for distribution of content via satellite, an area still underutilised in Europe, but one that is particularly beneficial for large release widths as well as live events. Ymagis is the only cinema distribution network in Europe to offer the full spectrum of delivery pipelines.
The development, therefore, consolidates satellite distribution to cinemas in Europe down to two main players.The other major player in the satellite arena in Europe is DSAT Cinema, a venture formed exclusively for satellite delivery to cinemas in Europe between DCinex and Eutelsat. DSAT covers around 1300 sites in Europe. Technicolor also set up an agreement with Smartjog in 2012 for satellite distribution across Europe.
The deal comes as Unique Digital has entered into a long term agreement with BT Group in order to set up a broadband cinema network in the UK. Unique was also recently selected by the Danish Distributors Association (FAFID) to deliver DCPs using its MovieTransit system. It has also reached an exclusive long term deal with Odeon UCI for its UK and Ireland sites. Other broadband cinema operators in Europe include Deluxe Digital, Globecast and Gofilex.