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Acorn TV Streaming Service Tops 150,000 Subscribers

14 Aug, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Parent RLJ Entertainment narrows Q2 fiscal loss 76%

Acorn TV — one of the first subscription streaming services in the United States besides Netflix — has topped 150,000 subscribers since June 30. Featuring British mysteries and dramas, the $4.99 monthly Acorn TV has grown subs nearly 70% year-over-year and up 28% since Dec. 31.

Owned and operated by RLJ Entertainment, which was formed by the merger of Acorn Media Group and Image Entertainment in 2012, Acorn TV paved the way for RLJ’s recent launch of UMC — Urban Movie Channel and separately, fitness-centric Acacia TV.

Indeed, the digital networks accounted for 23% of the direct-to-consumer unit’s revenue. The increase in digital network revenue of 107.3% and 100.4%, respectively, for the three and six month fiscal periods was driven primarily by Acorn TV. 

“My recent investment of $15 million was based on my belief that [RLJ Entertainment] has a bright future as one of the largest independent distributors of content and because of its strategy to grow its proprietary digital channels,” Robert L. Johnson, chairman of RLJ Entertainment and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), said in a statement.

Johnson’s $15 million lifeline last April appeared to be a leap of faith following first-quarter financial results that included a $10.6 million loss and 14% decline in revenue.

Fast-forward 90 days, and RLJ reported a second-quarter (ended June 30) loss of $546,000 — a 76% improvement from a loss of more than $2.2 million during the prior-year period. Revenue dropped 25% to $24.1 million largely due to declines in the wholesale and direct-to-consumer business units.

Specifically, the wholesale segment released 19 titles in the quarter, compared with the release of 35 titles in the prior-year period. For 2015, 54 titles are slated for release in the back half of the year compared with 46 titles last year.

RLJ attributed the shift in timing of releases this year primarily due to the prior year's limited access to working capital as the distributor refinanced its debt.

"With this improved financial profile, we remain committed to improving our balance sheet, expanding our margins, and increasing our return on invested capital through content acquisitions, as well as growing our proprietary digital streaming channels,” CEO Miguel Penella said in a statement.

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