Bob Ross, the chilling artist whose show The Joy of Painting was a PBS icon in the 80s, is enjoying renewed fame 25 years after his death.
Ross’s gentle demeanor and expression of love for natural beauty were the heart of his appeal as he guided his audience through his process to transform blotches on a canvas into complex landscapes dotted with “happy” clouds or trees.
Ross was on air for 31 seasons. His show is now available on Amazon Prime Video and Disney’s Hulu. He has also been socially active on YouTube and Twitch. Cinedigm, which has its roots in digital cinema and has since shifted to online content distribution, will soon be able to stand alongside Ross.
Erick Opeka is the chief strategy officer at Cinedigm. He said that Bob Ross is a favorite of many people. So Cinedigm negotiated exclusive rights to broadcast The Bob Ross Channel online. He’s an icon for chill contemplation, and he was the right man at the right time.
Cinedigm’s Bob Ross Channel, which Cinedigm launched a year ago, now has 6 million monthly viewers on 20 platforms. These include Roku devices, Samsung T.V.s, and Roku T.V.s. The company will launch an Elvis Channel with Authentic Brands Group in January. This partnership is made possible by the New York-based firm, which owns Elvis Presley Enterprises. They hope to launch the channel a few months before a major film about the King directed by Baz Luhrmann.
Chris McGurk, the Cinedigm CEO, stated that Elvis is a larger brand and icon than any other. He has rabid fans in all age groups, across all countries, and can’t get enough. So it’s a natural extension to our strategy. It is not a genre. It is not a team. It’s a celebrity idol with millions of passionate fans.
Cinedigm hopes to ride the streaming wave into the future as it exits the dying theatre equipment licensing business devastated by the pandemic. McGurk began to look for online distribution after the company helped theater owners make the difficult transition from film prints and digital. Cinedigm was able to find new investors who supported the strategy and helped the company withstand the threat of its stock being removed from the NASDAQ exchange in 2020. It sold $10.8 million of cinema equipment to AMC in March and used the proceeds for debt repayment.
Although the December quarter saw a loss of nearly $10 million, analysts such as Brian Kinstlinger from Alliance Global Partners are optimistic about the company’s future. They point to its revenue growth of 150% year-over-year.
Cinedigm’s celebrity roster is part of its overall strategy to attract passionate audiences and create streaming channels catering to their shared obsessions. Cinedigm made five acquisitions in the last year. These included Fandor, a favorite among independent film fans, Screambox, which caters to horror lovers, and Films Around the World, with its collection of classic films from the 1940s through the 1980s. Cinedigm has 17 channels and approximately 8,000 hours worth of programming. It has also set aside as much as $100million for future acquisitions.
Benchmark analyst Daniel Kurnos wrote, “It feels like we are building momentum towards larger deals and bigger partnerships.”
Although it is not a revolutionary move, tapping the appeal of lost icons is a good time. Forbes has been following the business of fallen icons ever since 2001, when it published its first Dead Celebrities ranking. Elvis landed at No. 5 with $23 Million.
Kurnos estimates that The Bob Ross Channel could bring in as much as $6 million annually, which is on top of Bob Ross Inc.’s revenue from sales of T-shirts, books, and other merchandise. With its exclusive rights to hundreds of hours of Elvis-related content, the channel could be even bigger. The Elvis Aloha From Hawaii, the Elvis Comeback Special, and the Elvis by the Presleys set in Graceland. It is also in negotiations to obtain rights to Blue Hawaii and G.I. Blues to the channel.
Steve Nason, Parks Associates’ research director, said that they are all focused on acquiring exclusive content. This is what makes them “gold.” Because very few people have access to exclusive content.