LOS ANGELES: Entertainment conglomerate Viacom, owner of Paramount Pictures, has allied with two other major Hollywood studios to launch a premium television and video-on-demand channel that will screen their movies and TV series.

The joint venture with MGM and Lionsgate will air in the fall next year and has the "potential to be a game-changer for the [pay-TV] industry'', claims Viacom president/ceo Philippe Dauman (pictured).

The new channel will challenge Time Warner'sHBO and CBS'sShowtime Networks, following the end of the latter's contracts with the threestudios.

It will offer new movies produced by the studios before they are shown on other pay-TV services. In addition, it will have access to the trio's extensive film libraries, which include The Godfather, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and James Bond franchises.

Dauman adds: "We can provide a lot more ways to provide what consumers want, whether it's broadband opportunities, maximizing video-on-demand opportunities and high definition."  

Although no financial details have bee made public, Viacom is expected to take the largest share of the new venture.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff