Walmart Taps TV Exec Mark Greenberg To Explore New Streaming Service

Walmart is collaborating with veteran television executive Mark Greenberg on a new video streaming service that would challenge the dominance of Netflix and Amazon by targeting Middle American tastes in programming.
The venture is in the early stages o…

Walmart is collaborating with veteran television executive Mark Greenberg on a new video streaming service that would challenge the dominance of Netflix and Amazon by targeting Middle American tastes in programming. The venture is in the early stages of development and has not been formally greenlit by Walmart, according to reports. The company isn’t expected to make a decision on moving forward until late summer or early fall. Greenberg left his role last year as chief…

Walmart Enlists Mark Greenberg, Former Epix CEO, to Develop Netflix Competitor

Walmart has turned to cable-industry veteran Mark Greenberg to help develop a low-cost subscription video-streaming service, sources confirmed to Variety. Greenberg exited Epix last fall after nearly a decade running the premium TV venture as CEO, whic…

Walmart has turned to cable-industry veteran Mark Greenberg to help develop a low-cost subscription video-streaming service, sources confirmed to Variety. Greenberg exited Epix last fall after nearly a decade running the premium TV venture as CEO, which he helped launch. Epix is now owned by MGM, which bought out its two other founding partners — Lionsgate and […]

Inside Gary Barber’s Ouster: MGM Board Clashes, Planting Sale Rumors

Rising tension between the MGM board and CEO Gary Barber are behind the executive’s sudden ouster this week, individuals with knowledge of the relationship told TheWrap.

The industry veteran was cut loose abruptly on Monday night after a new clash before the weekend led the board to conclude that Barber would hint to Wall Street that MGM was for sale, according to two knowledgeable individuals.

“He was about to pull that lever,” said one of the insiders. “Whenever Gary gets frustrated and feels out of sync, he is able to press a button and put the company into play. No one wants that distraction.”

Also Read: MGM Pulls ‘Valley Girl’ Remake With Embattled YouTuber Logan Paul From Release Schedule

The board of directors, led by Anchorage Capital CEO Kevin Ulrich – the company’s largest shareholder – unanimously decided to let Barber go, an unusual move given that no immediate deal was in play and no successor was prepared. The abrupt dismissal came just five months after Barber’s contract was renewed through 2022 and fueled speculation across Hollywood. Internally, employees said they were blindsided by the news, as was Barber himself.

Barber is a longtime producer and widely respected executive, and in the age of #MeToo, predictable gossip has spread.

But the executives with knowledge of the situation said that Barber’s conservative approach to growing MGM led to the high tension with the board, which had been pushing him to set a riskier strategy – including seeking new acquisitions and leveraging the May 2017 acquisition of Epix to bigger goals.

From left: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins and Gary Barber nine days ago at the Hollywood premiere of “Tomb Raider”

“Gary resisted TV and digital. He did a great job fiscally managing MGM, but he’s not the guy to take it to the next double value,” said another person with inside knowledge of the company. “He micromanaged everything, refused to have an heir apparent or big time president… he has wanted to sell the company whereas Kevin (Ulrich) thinks there is a double” value to be gained.

Also Read: MGM Says James Bond Rights Still Up in the Air, Boasts Strong Q3 After Epix Acquisition

Barber did not respond to TheWrap’s request for response. A rep for Ulrich did not immediately respond.

Epix has underperformed since MGM acquired the digital asset last year and another executive said Barber lacked a general knowledge of the OTT and streaming video space.

Another flash point was the poor relationship between reality TV kingpin Mark Burnett, who has served as president of MGM TV since 2015 when Barber purchased a majority stake in Burnett and Roma Downey’s prolific company  — the producer of long-running hits like “Shark Tank,” “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”

Burnett did not respond to a request for comment.

With a wave of consolidation sweeping the entertainment industry, ultimately Ulrich and other board members believed that Barber did not have the right temperament for MGM to continue as a standalone company and fend off acquisition battles.

“The DNA has to be as risk-leaning, creative, digitally savy as possible to ensure MGM can remain independent, ” said the first individual with knowledge of the board’s thinking.

Ulrich was particularly irked that Barber would use his contacts in the investment community when the board pushed him. “Every time things would come to a head, remarkably, magically, the company would end up for sale.”

Also Read: Mark Burnett: ‘I Am Not ‘Pro-Trump

“The decision to make a change was not driven by Mr. Ulrich.  It was a unanimous decision of the non-executive directors on the Board,” an MGM spokesperson told TheWrap.

MGM hit its third year of record profits in 2016. Last fall, MGM reported a major Q3 gain with $114 million in earnings, up from $12 million year-over-year.

Under Barber, MGM pulled off a stunning reversal of fortune. He took over the same year the studio filed for bankruptcy in 2010, fighting off challenges from its majority investor Carl Icahn and continuing the hot streak of its most valuable intellectual property — James Bond — with Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes.

The studio also churned out hits like Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” to the tune of over $280 million worldwide, a respectable reboot of the Western “The Magnificent Seven” led by Denzel Washington and co-released with Sony, and just relaunched Angelina Jolie’s namesake action franchise “Tomb Raider” with Alicia Vikander.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Gary Barber Exits Abruptly as MGM Chief Executive Officer

MGM Pulls ‘Valley Girl’ Remake With Embattled YouTuber Logan Paul From Release Schedule

MGM Ups Kristin Cotich to Communications EVP

Rising tension between the MGM board and CEO Gary Barber are behind the executive’s sudden ouster this week, individuals with knowledge of the relationship told TheWrap.

The industry veteran was cut loose abruptly on Monday night after a new clash before the weekend led the board to conclude that Barber would hint to Wall Street that MGM was for sale, according to two knowledgeable individuals.

“He was about to pull that lever,” said one of the insiders. “Whenever Gary gets frustrated and feels out of sync, he is able to press a button and put the company into play. No one wants that distraction.”

The board of directors, led by Anchorage Capital CEO Kevin Ulrich – the company’s largest shareholder – unanimously decided to let Barber go, an unusual move given that no immediate deal was in play and no successor was prepared. The abrupt dismissal came just five months after Barber’s contract was renewed through 2022 and fueled speculation across Hollywood. Internally, employees said they were blindsided by the news, as was Barber himself.

Barber is a longtime producer and widely respected executive, and in the age of #MeToo, predictable gossip has spread.

But the executives with knowledge of the situation said that Barber’s conservative approach to growing MGM led to the high tension with the board, which had been pushing him to set a riskier strategy – including seeking new acquisitions and leveraging the May 2017 acquisition of Epix to bigger goals.

From left: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins and Gary Barber nine days ago at the Hollywood premiere of “Tomb Raider”

“Gary resisted TV and digital. He did a great job fiscally managing MGM, but he’s not the guy to take it to the next double value,” said another person with inside knowledge of the company. “He micromanaged everything, refused to have an heir apparent or big time president… he has wanted to sell the company whereas Kevin (Ulrich) thinks there is a double” value to be gained.

Barber did not respond to TheWrap’s request for response. A rep for Ulrich did not immediately respond.

Epix has underperformed since MGM acquired the digital asset last year and another executive said Barber lacked a general knowledge of the OTT and streaming video space.

Another flash point was the poor relationship between reality TV kingpin Mark Burnett, who has served as president of MGM TV since 2015 when Barber purchased a majority stake in Burnett and Roma Downey’s prolific company  — the producer of long-running hits like “Shark Tank,” “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”

Burnett did not respond to a request for comment.

With a wave of consolidation sweeping the entertainment industry, ultimately Ulrich and other board members believed that Barber did not have the right temperament for MGM to continue as a standalone company and fend off acquisition battles.

“The DNA has to be as risk-leaning, creative, digitally savy as possible to ensure MGM can remain independent, ” said the first individual with knowledge of the board’s thinking.

Ulrich was particularly irked that Barber would use his contacts in the investment community when the board pushed him. “Every time things would come to a head, remarkably, magically, the company would end up for sale.”

“The decision to make a change was not driven by Mr. Ulrich.  It was a unanimous decision of the non-executive directors on the Board,” an MGM spokesperson told TheWrap.

MGM hit its third year of record profits in 2016. Last fall, MGM reported a major Q3 gain with $114 million in earnings, up from $12 million year-over-year.

Under Barber, MGM pulled off a stunning reversal of fortune. He took over the same year the studio filed for bankruptcy in 2010, fighting off challenges from its majority investor Carl Icahn and continuing the hot streak of its most valuable intellectual property — James Bond — with Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes.

The studio also churned out hits like Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” to the tune of over $280 million worldwide, a respectable reboot of the Western “The Magnificent Seven” led by Denzel Washington and co-released with Sony, and just relaunched Angelina Jolie’s namesake action franchise “Tomb Raider” with Alicia Vikander.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Gary Barber Exits Abruptly as MGM Chief Executive Officer

MGM Pulls 'Valley Girl' Remake With Embattled YouTuber Logan Paul From Release Schedule

MGM Ups Kristin Cotich to Communications EVP

Media Content Wars Will Require Both Scale And Reach; “A Brand Only Gets You So Far” — NATPE

Traditional media execs have been assailed in some corners for their allegiance to the notion of a brand — be it a network, a studio or talent — that they rely on to draw audiences to content.
An executive panel closed out the Streaming Summit at NATPE by considering how dramatically the idea of brands has changed — and in some ways how vital it remains.
Wall Street analyst Michael Nathanson said Disney’s public posture on its OTT strategy changed from, essentially, “kids…

Traditional media execs have been assailed in some corners for their allegiance to the notion of a brand — be it a network, a studio or talent — that they rely on to draw audiences to content. An executive panel closed out the Streaming Summit at NATPE by considering how dramatically the idea of brands has changed — and in some ways how vital it remains. Wall Street analyst Michael Nathanson said Disney’s public posture on its OTT strategy changed from, essentially, “kids…

Epix CEO Mark Greenberg Steps Down

Epix president and CEO Mark Greenberg is exiting.

Epix executive vice president of programming, strategy and enterprises Monty Sarhan will take the helm in the interim while a new head is sought. The premium channel venture started in 2009 as a partnership between MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount.

Greenberg’s move follows MGM agreeing in April to a $1 billion deal to buy out Viacom and Lionsgate for full ownership.

Also Read: Meg Ryan to Star in Epix Comedy Series ‘Picture Paris’

“We were committed to completing the integration effectively and efficiently,” Greenberg said in a statement. “Having completed the integration effectively and efficiently, it really created a segue for me to say that it’s time for me to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve left this company in good hands.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Get Shorty’: Watch Ray Romano and Chris O’Dowd in Epix Series’ First Trailer (Video)

MGM Borrows $2.1 Billion to Finance Epix Deal, Grow Company

‘Graves,’ ‘Berlin Station’ Score Season 2 Renewals at Epix

Epix president and CEO Mark Greenberg is exiting.

Epix executive vice president of programming, strategy and enterprises Monty Sarhan will take the helm in the interim while a new head is sought. The premium channel venture started in 2009 as a partnership between MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount.

Greenberg’s move follows MGM agreeing in April to a $1 billion deal to buy out Viacom and Lionsgate for full ownership.

“We were committed to completing the integration effectively and efficiently,” Greenberg said in a statement. “Having completed the integration effectively and efficiently, it really created a segue for me to say that it’s time for me to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve left this company in good hands.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Get Shorty': Watch Ray Romano and Chris O'Dowd in Epix Series' First Trailer (Video)

MGM Borrows $2.1 Billion to Finance Epix Deal, Grow Company

'Graves,' 'Berlin Station' Score Season 2 Renewals at Epix

Mark Greenberg Exits Epix After Decade at the Helm (EXCLUSIVE)

Mark Greenberg is stepping down as president-CEO of Epix after nearly 10 years at the helm of the premium TV venture he founded with MGM, Lionsgate, and Paramount Pictures in 2008, Variety has learned exclusively. The shuffle comes five months after MGM completed its $1 billion buyout of the premium cable and digital service. Greenberg […]

Mark Greenberg is stepping down as president-CEO of Epix after nearly 10 years at the helm of the premium TV venture he founded with MGM, Lionsgate, and Paramount Pictures in 2008, Variety has learned exclusively. The shuffle comes five months after MGM completed its $1 billion buyout of the premium cable and digital service. Greenberg […]

MGM to Buy Premium Cable Network Epix in $1 Billion Deal

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will become the sole owner of premium cable network Epix, after the mini-major studio bought out partners Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate, the company announced Wednesday.

MGM will pay $1.03 billion for the approximately 80.91 percent of the cable channel it did not own, valuing Epix at $1.25 billion in total, including $75 million distribution payments for each of the partners. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close this month.

The deal gives MGM sole control of Epix’ four linear TV channels, which are available through traditional and digital distributors. Paramount and Lionsgate will also give Epix their first-run theatrical releases as part of multi-year agreements. Epix’s movie library has a combined gross of $4 billion, and the channel also airs original series such as the Golden Globe-nominated “Graves.”

Also Read: MGM in Talks to Acquire Epix Premium Cable Network (Report)

“The addition of Epix provides MGM with a premier distribution platform that complements our strong stable of new and library content in both film and television.  The acquisition creates increased revenue diversity, new opportunities for growth, and earnings accretion for the benefit of stockholders,” Gary Barber, Chairman and CEO of MGM said in a statement.  “I would like to thank Jon Feltheimer and his colleagues at Lionsgate and Bob Bakish and his colleagues at Viacom and Paramount, for their unwavering commitment to building the value of this premium service, and their continued commitment to provide their theatrical releases for years to come. We also look forward to welcoming Mark Greenberg and his team to the MGM family.  With Mark’s strong leadership and dedicated management team, Epix’s innovative platform and premium film and television content, Epix is well positioned to capitalize on the evolving patterns of content consumption in a dynamic distribution landscape.”

“Together with our partners, we are proud to have built Epix into a strong, differentiated and valuable brand,” Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish added in the statement. “As Viacom executes against its new strategy, we welcome the opportunity to strengthen our balance sheet by realizing the value of our equity investment, while also extending the successful commercial partnership between Epix and Paramount Pictures with a new multi-year output agreement.  MGM will be an outstanding steward of the network, and we look forward to working with Epix to bring its subscribers even more premium entertainment for years to come.” 

“With our partners at MGM and Viacom, we are proud to have built a technologically advanced, consumer-facing platform driven by great content,” Lionsgate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer said in the statement. “Though we are shifting our investment focus to our wholly-owned platforms, we wish CEO Mark Greenberg and the rest of the Epix team, along with Gary Barber and his colleagues at MGM, great success in continuing Epix’s strong growth in the future.”

Also Read: Meg Ryan to Star in Epix Comedy Series ‘Picture Paris’

“This agreement between our founding partners MGM, Lionsgate and Viacom reflects the significant value already created in this joint-venture, while acknowledging the accelerated growth potential of Epix with a single, focused and committed owner,” Mark Greenberg, Epix president and CEO, said in the statement. “We are proud to have built this very successful business and we want to thank our partners for their investment, strategic engagement and support since our founding. The Lionsgate and Viacom priorities have evolved in recent months, and now is the right time for them to capitalize on their initial investment and focus their attention on their other businesses, while they continue to provide Epix with great studio movies and original series for years to come.  As we look forward, we are excited about the future of Epix as a wholly-owned business of MGM. Gary Barber and the team at MGM have the resources, understanding and dedication to our near and long-term success that are essential in this rapidly evolving media and entertainment landscape where the power of great content is critically important.”

LionTree Advisors served as financial adviser to Viacom and Lionsgate.  Latham & Watkins LLP were MGM’s legal advisers, while Shearman & Sterling LLP served as legal advisers to Viacom and O’Melveny & Myers LLP served as legal advisers to Lionsgate.

Related stories from TheWrap:

MGM in Talks to Acquire Epix Premium Cable Network (Report)

Meg Ryan to Star in Epix Comedy Series ‘Picture Paris’

‘Graves,’ ‘Berlin Station’ Score Season 2 Renewals at Epix

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will become the sole owner of premium cable network Epix, after the mini-major studio bought out partners Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate, the company announced Wednesday.

MGM will pay $1.03 billion for the approximately 80.91 percent of the cable channel it did not own, valuing Epix at $1.25 billion in total, including $75 million distribution payments for each of the partners. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close this month.

The deal gives MGM sole control of Epix’ four linear TV channels, which are available through traditional and digital distributors. Paramount and Lionsgate will also give Epix their first-run theatrical releases as part of multi-year agreements. Epix’s movie library has a combined gross of $4 billion, and the channel also airs original series such as the Golden Globe-nominated “Graves.”

“The addition of Epix provides MGM with a premier distribution platform that complements our strong stable of new and library content in both film and television.  The acquisition creates increased revenue diversity, new opportunities for growth, and earnings accretion for the benefit of stockholders,” Gary Barber, Chairman and CEO of MGM said in a statement.  “I would like to thank Jon Feltheimer and his colleagues at Lionsgate and Bob Bakish and his colleagues at Viacom and Paramount, for their unwavering commitment to building the value of this premium service, and their continued commitment to provide their theatrical releases for years to come. We also look forward to welcoming Mark Greenberg and his team to the MGM family.  With Mark’s strong leadership and dedicated management team, Epix’s innovative platform and premium film and television content, Epix is well positioned to capitalize on the evolving patterns of content consumption in a dynamic distribution landscape.”

“Together with our partners, we are proud to have built Epix into a strong, differentiated and valuable brand,” Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish added in the statement. “As Viacom executes against its new strategy, we welcome the opportunity to strengthen our balance sheet by realizing the value of our equity investment, while also extending the successful commercial partnership between Epix and Paramount Pictures with a new multi-year output agreement.  MGM will be an outstanding steward of the network, and we look forward to working with Epix to bring its subscribers even more premium entertainment for years to come.” 

“With our partners at MGM and Viacom, we are proud to have built a technologically advanced, consumer-facing platform driven by great content,” Lionsgate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer said in the statement. “Though we are shifting our investment focus to our wholly-owned platforms, we wish CEO Mark Greenberg and the rest of the Epix team, along with Gary Barber and his colleagues at MGM, great success in continuing Epix’s strong growth in the future.”

“This agreement between our founding partners MGM, Lionsgate and Viacom reflects the significant value already created in this joint-venture, while acknowledging the accelerated growth potential of Epix with a single, focused and committed owner,” Mark Greenberg, Epix president and CEO, said in the statement. “We are proud to have built this very successful business and we want to thank our partners for their investment, strategic engagement and support since our founding. The Lionsgate and Viacom priorities have evolved in recent months, and now is the right time for them to capitalize on their initial investment and focus their attention on their other businesses, while they continue to provide Epix with great studio movies and original series for years to come.  As we look forward, we are excited about the future of Epix as a wholly-owned business of MGM. Gary Barber and the team at MGM have the resources, understanding and dedication to our near and long-term success that are essential in this rapidly evolving media and entertainment landscape where the power of great content is critically important.”

LionTree Advisors served as financial adviser to Viacom and Lionsgate.  Latham & Watkins LLP were MGM’s legal advisers, while Shearman & Sterling LLP served as legal advisers to Viacom and O’Melveny & Myers LLP served as legal advisers to Lionsgate.

Related stories from TheWrap:

MGM in Talks to Acquire Epix Premium Cable Network (Report)

Meg Ryan to Star in Epix Comedy Series 'Picture Paris'

'Graves,' 'Berlin Station' Score Season 2 Renewals at Epix

The Help Group Teddy Bear Ball Honors Epix CEO Mark Greenberg

After his performance at the Help Group Teddy Bear Ball, Common lingered in the crowd shaking hands and taking pictures with anyone who came up to him. The happiness he felt from performing for a good cause was clear on his face, as he stayed around long after the actual event had ended. It was… Read more »

After his performance at the Help Group Teddy Bear Ball, Common lingered in the crowd shaking hands and taking pictures with anyone who came up to him. The happiness he felt from performing for a good cause was clear on his face, as he stayed around long after the actual event had ended. It was... Read more »

Epix CEO Mark Greenberg Extends Contract As Owners Weigh Options

EXCLUSIVE: At a time of growing questions about Epix’s prospects, here’s one thing that’s secure: CEO Mark Greenberg has signed a new multi-year contract to stay at the premium network.
Greenberg created the business plan for Epix — owned by Lionsgate, Viacom’s Paramount, and MGM — and shepherded it since its launch in 2009.
There’s no word on how long the contract lasts, or what options Greenberg has if there’s a change in Epix’s ownership structure.
That could be…

EXCLUSIVE: At a time of growing questions about Epix’s prospects, here’s one thing that’s secure: CEO Mark Greenberg has signed a new multi-year contract to stay at the premium network. Greenberg created the business plan for Epix — owned by Lionsgate, Viacom’s Paramount, and MGM — and shepherded it since its launch in 2009. There’s no word on how long the contract lasts, or what options Greenberg has if there’s a change in Epix’s ownership structure. That could be…