Digital or bust

Ex-Showtime chief Peter Einstein discusses his latest venture.
Peter Einstein.
Peter Einstein.

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Former Showtime Arabia CEO Peter Einstein tells Digital Broadcast about his journey from pay TV to his
new digitisation and content distribution company via a private equity firm and a 24/7 gaming channel.

You formed a private equity consultancy after you left Showtime. How has that project developed since launch?
Peter Einstein: EMCP is a private equity advisory and investment company specialising in the technology, media and telecoms sector (TMT). In the early days of the company we were building a portfolio of start-ups and early stage investments using our own capital as well as private family wealth funds and other private equity firms.

What were the early TMT entities you invested in?
PE: During the 2007-2008 period we found it difficult to generate traction for these types of investments because of the frenzy around the real estate sector. Investors in the region were simply looking to make a ‘quick buck’.

So we decided to look towards opportunities outside of the region. In 2007 we bought a company called GINX, which is co-funded with several investors mainly from the UK.
 

GINX is a video gaming TV channel and internet portal targeting the ‘casual gamer’. It’s really what I like to call the ‘MTV of video games’.

Where is GINX currently distributed?
PE: We have distribution deals with various partners. There is a 24/7 GINX TV channel in Asia and we also produce two gaming programmes– Game Face and The GINX Files – for channels like Bravo.

We produce video gaming themed content for a number of other channels in Europe and Africa as well.

Are there any plans to bring GINX to the Middle East in one form or another?
PE: The company is self sustaining with another round of growth capital being raised to take the business to an even more advanced level and absolutely we’d like to bring it to the region.

But like everywhere else we favour partnering with a local company. Video gaming in the MENA region is huge and GINX could easily be customised in Arabic to serve this audience.

What is next for you?
PE: The next big project I’m working on is Eclipse Digital. There are three reasons why the company is necessary. Firstly all content from video to works of art will have to be digitised in the next ten years.

Much of it is currently stored inadequately and is deteriorating. Much of this material has had limited distribution because of its physical form.

Digitisation will make it available everywhere. Thirdly, there is a commercial opportunity to monetise this content that can suddenly be made available all over the world via various distribution platforms.

What stage of development is Eclipse Digital in at the present time?
PE: Once we have selected our permanent home – in the UAE or Qatar – we will create the facility itself.

In the meantime, we will be focusing on closing content deals. We are in negotiations with five or six archives, some are straight digitisation, restoration and archiving for governments to preserve cultural heritage and others are commercial opportunities which will ultimately expand into advertising, sponsorship and distribution revenue.

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