Increasingly, audiences around the world can watch live and filmed entertainment streaming. Over the world-wide internet and through other streaming services, they can watch live and filmed sports events, concerts, performing arts presentations, dramas and much more. For example, on December 21, Australia Network provides live streaming of the Miss Universe Pageant to audiences around the world. Further, on December 21, NCN Guyana.com provides live streaming of Real Football Vybz, among the many live, filmed, and/or free entertainment events by the best performers from around the world to the rest of the world.
Aware of the growing interest in streamed entertainment around the world, leading producers Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey have continued to expand the ever-growing renaissance of artistry and reformation of content in TV programs and movies by developing streaming programming for the best in artistic performances of excellent, redemptive content for viewing around the globe.
In July 2015, they revealed that they were a part of a division of United Artists Media Group (UAMG), which has included MGM, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Hearst Entertainment. Downey and Burnett shared how they have been developing a faith-based internet channel with UAMG. This channel with UAMG has been planned as an over-the-top video channel dedicated to faith-based content. UAMG has been developing this OTT service (over the top, direct to consumer, internet service) to be made available to audiences around the globe.
This OTT service has been planned to include: original content, premium film and TV catalog titles, Christian music videos, “portals” to regional and national congregations, sermons from around the globe, various short-form faith-based videos, and a return to the greatest story ever told, the Bible, for internet TV (or online TV) with its digital distribution of television content via the public Internet. Consumers can access OTT content through internet-connected devices such as the following: desktop and laptop computers, set-top boxes (such as the Roku), smartphones and tablets.
Recently, according to Deadline Hollywood.com, MGM has agreed to buy the 45% stake it didn’t own in its UAMG venture from partners Burnett, Downey, and Hearst, while putting Burnett in charge of the MGM Television and Digital Group. Burnett and Downey will swap their 23% stake in UAMG for 1,337,360 shares of MGM’s privately traded stock, which is valued at $90 per share (a total value of $120.4 million). Hearst will receive $113.5 million in cash for its 22% interests. The deals are expected to close early next year. Burnett will become president of the TV and digital group. He has signed a 5-year contract and will report to MGM chief Gary Barber.
Further, according to Deadline Hollywood.com, the planned streaming channel will remain separate and controlled by Downey, Burnett, Hearst and MGM with Downey as chief content officer for the channel and reporting to Burnett as president of LightWorkers Media, which will be the faith and family division of MGM Television.
The Hollywood Reporter.com explains that when the deal closes early in 2016, UAMG will be absorbed by MGM Television and Digital Group and Burnett will become its president, answering to MGM chief executive Gary Barber. MGM’s TV business will be consolidated into a renamed entity under the leadership of Burnett, one of the industry’s most successful producers. The transaction also serves the additional purpose of kick-starting the plans for the OTT channel aimed at churchgoing Americans, an audience of anywhere between 60 million and 150 million.
Burnett says the digital channel is seeking prospective executives, as well as developing original programming. Burnett would like to collect nonexclusive rights to 100,000 episodes of shows including “Touched by an Angel” and “Little House on the Prairie” that appeal to the faith-based audience. He also says the OTT channel will have a strong interactive component to it.
Through faith-based projects as “The Bible” (History), “A.D.” (NBC), “Answered Prayers” (TLC) and more, Burnett and Downey have become key players in scripted, Christian, faith-based, television dramas. They have also worked with MGM as producers of the upcoming Ben-Hur remake for theaters in 2016.. MGM has a vast library of current and past content that includes redemptive classics like “The Hobbit.”
Burnett has told Variety.com, “We’ve been working closely with Gary Barber since September, 2014… It made a seamlessly easy move to merge UA into MGM.” MGM currently offers programing through streaming and cable services.
As well as their excellent television series, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have been leading Christian producers of redemptive movies with the highest artistic content and value. They produced the MOVIEGUIDE® Award winning movie “SON OF GOD.” They have also recently produced “Little Boy” and “Woodlawn.”
Movieguide.org quotes Burnett, “…Demand for quality content is stronger than ever, and the opportunities to grow our pipeline and develop projects from the wealth of Intellectual Property in the MGM and United Artists libraries are enormous. There is no better time to be creating premium content for distribution across multiple platforms.”
Viewers can look forward to faith-based content, as well as quality programming from MGM’s vast library of classic movies with the further producing work of Burnett and Downey. Burnett has told Variety.com that his goal with MGM is “to find great franchises — things we can have foreign rights to and sell around the world. I’ll be doing that now with a much bigger support system…I think we’re due for a big, non-fiction competition franchise…I’ve tried to make high-quality, repeatable franchises that try to get renewed season after season…. I’ll have so much more success with it now under the MGM umbrella….There are now 50 digital outlets that want content. In the last 12 months, more than ever in my career, there are more opportunities to make content and to have it monetized and paid for in ways that weren’t really thought of before. The demand for video is through the roof. People want high quality content. And that’s where we come in.”
Concerning their involvement with Hearst Entertainment, Burnett has said, “It’s been a great experience with Hearst…We’re still going to be in business with Hearst with the OTT faith and family service which Roma will head up. Hearst will still be our partner in that.” Concerning Lightworkers Media, the faith and family service, Burnett has said, ” We’re interviewing now for someone to run the division…. The demand is greater than ever for faith and family programming… the ‘Bible’ series opened up the floodgates of possibilities. There are enormous numbers of people who are looking for family-friendly and faith content. It’s an underserved audience. We’ll be launching it in ’16…”
In the dramatic films of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey for theaters and television the common essential themes of faith, love, and hope are evident even in the midst of loss and hardship. Burnett and Downey, who have respectfully sought the assistance and support of Bible scholars and churches of all denominations across the country in their productions, present Jesus Christ and His followers as they bring Truth, Light, and Eternal Hope to a dark and oppressed world. They have been a unifying force of love, good, and hope for people of faith in the Bible around the globe. They have rallied leaders for prayer and action for Christians facing persecution and genocide. They have initiated a campaign to provide millions of dollars of aid for persecuted Christians around the world.