The saying in Hollywood is, “Never let them see you sweat”. But Showtime CEO Matt Blank is rattled by the launch of EPIX — that new premium entertainment service owned by Viacom, Paramount, Lionsgate and what’s left of MGM. So much so that he’s instructed his marketing team to buy Showtime online advertisements on Google every time someone searches for Epix information. How funny is that? It’s not just that EPIX is a rival to Showtime. It’s also that Showtime lost those Epix studios after playing hardball on the license feesd, which totaled about $300 million in 2008. Showtime has been desperately trying to fill the void in its movie lineup. To date, EPIX has just one distribution pact with Verizon Communications Inc’s FiOS TV service, which means it’s only available to 2.5 million households, but the service is in advanced talks with numerous distribution partners. Sources tell me that EchoStar’s Dish Network, which reaches more than 13 million satellite television customers, is the most likely to announce they will be carrying EPIX.
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