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AMC Acquires RLJ Entertainment, Owner of Acorn TV, for $65M
AMC Networks places a bet on the popularity of British movies and series, as well as a continuing love for Agatha Christie mysteries.

AMC Networks announced today that it will acquire a majority stake of RLJ Entertainment for $65 million. Upon completion, RLJ will become a subsidiary of AMC, and Robert L. Johnson, RLJ's founder, will own 17 percent. AMC already owned 30.1 percent of the company, and will own 50.1 percent following this deal.

RLJ Entertainment is better known for its Acorn TV service, which streams primarily British content for $4.99 per month, and sells DVDs through AcornOnline.com. The company also owns UMC (Urban Movie Channel)—a streaming service targeted to black viewers—and a controlling interest (64 percent) in Agatha Christie Limited.

In a press statement, RLJ noted that business is strong across its brands. Acorn TV and UMC have over 800,000 combined subscribers, up 100,000 from December 31, 2017. Both services are now available through the Comcast Xfinity TV platform. Interest in Agatha Christie properties is strong, as last year's "Murder on the Orient Express" took in $350 million worldwide, and a sequel—"Death on the Nile"—is now being planned.

"Bob Johnson is a legend for good reasons that we are the beneficiaries of. His management team is extraordinary, having successfully transitioned Acorn TV from a home video and DVD business to a leading direct-to-consumer subscription service, and growing both Acorn TV and UMC in a competitive environment, by offering excellent, sought-after content and creating strong brands," says Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks. "In addition, RLJ Entertainment's majority stake in the Agatha Christie library—a content brand which remains one of the most popular and venerable—provides AMC Networks with valuable IP opportunities."

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