|Launched||October 30, 2009|
We Get Big Movies (primary)|
Great Movies Become… Epix (secondary)
Spanish (via SAP audio track; some films may be broadcast in their native language and subtitled into English)
|Headquarters||New York City, New York|
380 EPIX (HD/SD)|
381 EPIX2 (HD/SD)
382 EPIX Hits (HD/SD)
292 EPIX Drive-In (SD)
|Available on most U.S. cable systems||Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability|
895 EPIX (HD)|
896 EPIX2 (HD)
395 EPIX (SD)
1891 EPIX (east; HD)|
1892 EPIX (west; HD)
1893 EPIX2 (HD)
1894 EPIX Hits (HD)
891 EPIX (east; SD)
892 EPIX (west; SD)
893 EPIX2 (SD)
896 EPIX Drive-In (SD)
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
(Epix Hits only)
Epix (pronounced "epics" and stylized as "ePix") is an American premium cable and satellite television network that is owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The channel's programming consists of recent and older theatrically released motion pictures, original series, documentaries, and music and comedy specials.
Epix – which is currently led by Executive Vice President and General Manager Monty Sarhan – operates out of the Bertelsmann Building in New York City. Launched in October 2009, Epix is the youngest of the major premium television channels in the United States. Epix and, depending on the carriage of any of the latter services, its three multiplex channels are sold by most traditional multichannel video programming distributors either as premium services or as part of a la carte digital movie tiers as well as by over-the-top MVPDs Sling TV (which includes the full Epix multiplex with Epix Drive-In available to all base subscribers and the remaining Epix channels offered as a premium add-on) and PlayStation Vue (which offers the multiplex service Epix Hits and its video-on-demand service as a premium add-on).
- 1 Background
- 2 History
- 3 Channels
- 4 Programming
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Paramount Pictures has been involved in the pay television industry since the 1950s. From 1953 to 1961, Paramount owned Telemeter, an ambitious but expensive theater television system that transmitted using closed circuitry – as opposed to broadcast frequencies – over which customers could purchase broadcasts by inserting coins into a collection box.
In April 1980, Paramount (then owned by Gulf+Western), MCA/Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox partnered with Getty Oil to jointly develop a pay cable service called Premiere. The proposed channel would have maintained exclusive first-run rights to newer feature films distributed by each of the studios (which would have aired nine months before to their initial telecasts on other premium channels), along with carrying films cherry-picked from other studios without any exclusivity. Displeased that the venture would likely give the four studios disproportionate control of the pay television marketplace, Time-Life, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment and Viacom/TelePrompTer (the then respective owners of HBO, The Movie Channel and Showtime) proceeded to file an antitrust lawsuit against the studios with the U.S. Justice Department later that year. After reviewing the case, the Justice Department issued an injunction blocking Premiere's planned January 1, 1981 launch, deeming the venture to be an illegal boycott of the existing pay services that would subject them to possible financial damage if its presence resulted in price fixing of film titles. Paramount, MCA, Fox and Columbia decided to scrap the venture after the ruling was handed down.
In August 1982, MCA/Universal and Gulf+Western reached an agreement with Warner Communications to each acquire 25% interests in The Movie Channel, a struggling pay service then-owned by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, a cable television venture of Warner and American Express that would retain the remaining 25%. This proposal was driven by the studios wanting to increase revenue received from licensing their films to premium television services, and industry concerns that dominant premium service HBO would hold undue negotiating power for these rights through its acquisitions of film titles prior to their theatrical release. In January 1983, the proposal was amended to include Viacom International, which proposed to consolidate The Movie Channel and Showtime (of which Viacom had acquired the 50% interest inherited by Group W Cable through its prior merger with TelePrompTer for $75 million in August 1982) into one unit. Four of the partners would respectively own 22.58% of both networks, with American Express owning the remaining 9.68%. As with the earlier Premiere proposal, the Justice Department subjected the proposal to regulatory scrutiny as Warner, Universal and Paramount received 50% of their respective total revenue from film releases and licensing fees from premium services; the 30% share that would be held by the Showtime-TMC combination would have also formed an oligopoly in the pay cable market with HBO and Cinemax (which, even with the presence of smaller competitors at the time like Bravo and Home Theater Network, controlled the remaining 60% of the market).
The proposal was revised twice to address these issues and others cited by HBO executives in responses to a civil antitrust lawsuit against the Showtime-Movie Channel merger that was filed by the Justice Department on June 10, 1983. This culminated in Paramount and Universal being dropped from the partnership in the final revision submitted on July 28, 1983; Warner Communications, Viacom and Warner-Amex became the only partners remaining in the proposal, which a Justice Department memorandum cited would "prevent any anti-competitive effect [against other premium services wishing to enter the market] from arising," currying the Department's formal approval of the proposal on August 13 (three weeks before it was finalized on September 6). Shortly afterward, Paramount signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Showtime, which had already maintained a licensing deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that gave the service exclusive pay cable rights to MGM's films.
Both of Showtime's tenures with Paramount ended in acrimony. In the spring of 1989, Paramount struck an exclusive licensing agreement with HBO; subsequently that May, Paramount filed a lawsuit against Showtime Networks, its parent Viacom, and the corporate parent of both entities, National Amusements over Showtime's alleged refusal to pay a total of $88 million in fees for five films – all of which had underperformed in their theatrical release – to reduce the minimum liability for its 75-film package from the studio.
Showtime regained first-run pay cable rights to Paramount's films through a seven-year distribution deal signed in May 1995, in a byproduct of Viacom's merger with Paramount Pictures parent Paramount Communications the year prior; this agreement gave the services of Showtime Networks – Showtime, The Movie Channel and Flix – exclusive rights to all films released by the studio from 1997 onward starting in January 1998, following the expiration of Paramount's contract with HBO. By 2002, after that studio finished a long-term distribution pact with HBO and Cinemax, Lions Gate Entertainment joined Paramount and MGM as Showtime's major film suppliers. Paramount's distribution contract with Showtime expired in January 2008, three years after the original Viacom corporate structure was split into two standalone companies within the National Amusements umbrella: the current Viacom, which took over Paramount's operations and select other divisions including the original entity's basic cable channels, and CBS Corporation, which – among the few properties it kept from its pre-split entity – retained ownership of Showtime Networks; MGM and Lions Gate's respective contracts with Showtime subsequently expired at the end of that year.
Development and launch
The formation of Epix was announced on April 21, 2008, after individual negotiations between Paramount Pictures, MGM, and Lions Gate Entertainment with Showtime to renew their existing film output deals broke down; each of the three studios disagreed with Showtime over the licensing rates for which they wanted Showtime to compensate them to allow future releases to air on the Showtime Networks services. In December 2008, the three studios – which named their jointly owned holding company for the channel, Studio 3 Partners – selected the name "Epix" for their premium channel and on-demand service; the partnership formally announced the launch of Epix at the National Association of Television Program Executives Convention on January 27, 2009. Mark Greenberg – a former executive at HBO, Showtime, and Blockbuster video – created the business plan and strategy then partnered with the three studios (Lions Gate, MGM and Paramount) to build and launch the network. Greenberg was the first CEO of EPIX, leading it from its creation in early 2008 through its acquisition by MGM over nine years later in 2017.
The network would focus on both recent feature films from Paramount (specifically those released after 2008), MGM (and subsidiary United Artists) and Lionsgate (consisting of films released by each studio from 2009 onward) as well as library content from each of the studios. Within weeks of its October 2009 launch, Epix signed an exclusive first-run film content agreements with two additional studios: one with Samuel Goldwyn Films to broadcast 20 movies from the studio, and another to carry 22 feature films from independent film studio Roadside Attractions. Studio 3 Partners chose the Viacom subdivision MTV Networks (now Viacom Media Networks) to provide operational support, marketing services and affiliate distribution for the channel. The network hired Mark Greenberg – who formerly served as a marketing executive at HBO and as an executive vice president at Showtime – to serve as Epix’s founding president and chief executive officer.
Though Epix was first announced by Studio 3 Partners as strictly a premium service, it eventually began to seek distribution as a hybrid premium/digital basic channel, although its programming would be presented uncut and commercial-free (a structure similar to the distribution method of Starz Encore). The channel also reportedly sought a monthly license fee of $1 to $1.50 per subscriber from prospective providers. Epix reached its first carriage agreement on July 28, 2009, when it signed a deal with Verizon FiOS. That August, two months prior to the channel's launch, three major pay television providers – cable providers Comcast and Cablevision, and satellite provider DirecTV – each formally announced that they would not carry Epix. DirecTV said regarding its decision not to carry the channel: "We think there are enough [premium channels] out there already, we don't see the value of adding another movie channel."
On August 28, 2009, Epix offered a free preview to Verizon FiOS subscribers, showing select films that would be offered by the channel upon its formal debut. During this preview, Epix added between five and seven movie selections every three days from the libraries of its three major studio backers, including the premium cable premieres of the 2008 releases Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Cloverfield. On September 25, 2009, the channel announced plans to launch an expanded online video on demand service – to be known as the "Epix MegaPlex" – that began offering a minimum of 3,000 film titles beginning in the summer of 2010, in comparsion to the approximately 200 titles that the basic Epix online VOD service would include in its library upon its official October 2010 launch. Epix's online offering includes over 3,000 titles for streaming, available to all subscribers through the network's apps and Epix.com; as a result, Epix offers a wider library of movies for streaming than the combined offerings by the streaming service of its premium network competitors. The network continues to expand its VOD selection through cable, satellite and telco operators; however, it does not include more than 150 to 200 titles per month due to the bandwidth constraints of these systems.
The Epix television service officially launched at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on October 30, 2009 on Verizon FiOS systems, becoming the first U.S. premium cable channel (not counting multiplex services of existing pay services) to debut since Liberty Media and Tele-Communications, Inc. launched Starz 15 years earlier on February 1, 1994. The first program to air on the channel was the film Iron Man, followed by the concert special Madonna Sticky & Sweet Tour: Live from Buenos Aires. Initially a single channel service, Epix was offered to subscribers of Verizon FiOS – which carried the channel for free during its debut weekend – for $9.99 per month (significantly less than the subscription rates of other premium channels, which normally range in price from $12.99 to $17.99 per month). Epix also provided customers – including those that were not Verizon FiOS subscribers – free previews of the online service each weekend through the end of November 2009, permitting access to the website's film content using invite codes given on a first come, first served basis.
Cox Communications reached a carriage deal with Epix on January 9, 2010; the linear channel's standard and high definition feeds, along with its video on demand and online streaming platforms, were added to Cox's systems throughout the U.S. on April 1. Mediacom signed a carriage agreement with Epix on January 14, 2010.
On April 19, 2010, Epix gained its first (and to date, only) national distribution partner when Dish Network announced that it would immediately begin carrying the channel as part of its "PlatinumHD" package; Subsequently, Epix launched its first two multiplex channels on the satellite provider during the 2010 calendar year: EPIX2 debuted first on May 12, followed by the August 11 debut of The 3 From Epix (now Epix Hits), which mainly carries movies released from the 1970s to the present. Dish Network would expand its relationship with Epix on February 16, 2015, as part of a carriage renewal agreement which made all four Epix channels available to subscribers of its over-the-top television service Sling TV as an add-on premium service.
On April 29, 2010, Charter Communications began carrying Epix as a package that offers both the channel's video on demand content in standard (150 titles at a time) and high definition (75 titles at a time), along with online streaming for $10 per month. On December 31 of that year, Suddenlink Communications reached an agreement with Viacom to carry Epix as part of an overall extension of its agreement to carry channels (such as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite) that the media company owns through its MTV Networks division. On March 4, 2014, Time Warner Cable, one of the cable providers that initially declined to carry the channel, announced that it had reached an agreement with Viacom to begin carrying Epix and its multiplex channels effective March 18.
On August 10, 2010, Netflix announced that it had reached an exclusive licensing deal with Epix, allowing subscribers of the streaming service to access movie titles released by Epix's content distributors to which the channel holds television and primary streaming rights. Titles to which Netflix gained access became available on the service less than one month later on September 1, with some newer films being released on Netflix within 90 days of their premiere on the Epix television and streaming services. On September 4, 2012, following the expiration of an exclusivity clause in the Netflix agreement that allowed Epix to license streaming rights to the channel's film titles to competing services, Epix entered into a three-year agreement with Amazon to provide film content on its Prime Video streaming service. Films appear on both Amazon and Netflix after the same 90-day delay period following their Epix debut.
Since its inception, Epix was among the first subscription television services to institute TV Everywhere capabilities; it was the first premium network to make its films available for streaming (beginning with the network's launch in 2009, its films were available via Epix.com), and was the first premium network to make its program content available on Roku devices, Xbox consoles, and the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita gaming devices, and – by way of an app released on November 7, 2013, through a distribution agreement that Studio 3 reached with Sony Corporation to release apps on its precessor consoles on January 3 of that year – PlayStation 4.
On June 2, 2014, Bright House Networks – which had its carriage agreements negotiated on their behalf by Time Warner Cable, prior to its November 2016 merger with Charter Communications – added the Epix multiplex, with all four channels being offered to its subscribers in a three-month free preview upon its initial rollout. The following month on July 14, Epix signed a multi-platform distribution agreement with AT&T U-verse, in which the channel's content would be made available to subscribers through the website and apps of both Epix and U-verse, as well as on AT&T on Demand (AT&T would acquire DirecTV in 2015; however, although the company plans to unify the program lineups of its two MVPDs, it remains the only major multichannel video programming distributor that does not carry Epix).
On August 31, 2015, Epix announced that it had signed a multi-year nonexclusive licensing contract in which Hulu would obtain the partial streaming rights to its feature film content. As a consequence of this agreement, Netflix announced that it would not renew its licensing agreement with Epix; all films from Epix that were made available on Netflix's streaming queue through the preceding agreement were removed when the contract expired at the end of September.
MGM buyout of Paramount and Lionsgate's interests
The future of Epix was placed into question through transactions involving Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate during the latter half of 2016. On June 30, Lionsgate agreed to acquire Starz Inc. (the parent company of rival pay service Starz, and its sister networks Starz Encore and MoviePlex) for $4.4 billion in cash and stock. Subsequently, on September 29, 2016, National Amusements CEO Shari Redstone sent a memorandum to executives at CBS Corporation and Viacom, intending to open negotiations for the two companies to re-consolidate into a single entity that would have likely included CBS's Showtime Networks unit among its properties; however on December 12, National Amusements rescinded the merger proposal, citing disagreements over valuation estimates of Viacom and Les Moonves' requests to maintain the relative managerial autonomy that he holds as CEO of CBS Corporation, should he be installed to head the merged company.
At an investor's gathering in early January 2017, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer inferred that it would explore strategic options regarding its stake in Epix – including a possible sale that would allow it to focus on Starz, of which Lionsgate completed its purchase on December 8, 2016; Feltheimer stated that Epix "is very valuable and throwing off cash," and that Viacom and MGM would "realize the value[,] which ever way we all decide is best for our companies." Financial analysts estimated that Epix would be valued between $1 billion and $2 billion (individually, Lionsgate's interest in the channel was valued at $458 million, MGM's interest was valued at around $277.7 million, and Viacom's interest was estimated to be worth around $739 million). On January 26, confidential sources with Studio 3 Partners confirmed to Reuters that Lionsgate had entered into discussions to sell its 31% stake in Epix to MGM and Paramount/Viacom; if a deal was reached, the two remaining partners would have become 50-50 partners in Epix.
On March 9, Reuters reported that MGM was in discussions to buy out the interests in Epix held by Lionsgate and Viacom (the latter of which was pursuing avenues, including the sale of non-strategic assets, to pay down its $12 billion debt load, and concentrate on restructuring Paramount Pictures and the services of Viacom Media Networks). These discussions culminated in a formal deal announced on April 5, 2017, in which MGM, Viacom and Lionsgate announced that they had reached an agreement for MGM to acquire Paramount/Viacom and Lionsgate's combined 80.91% interests – totaling 49.76% and 31.15%, respectively – in Epix for $1.032 billion (a purchase price based on a total evaluation of $1.275 billion for the channel, factoring in $75 million in distribution fees among each of the partners). On May 11, 2017, MGM announced that it had completed its acquisition of Viacom and Lionsgate's 80.9% interest in Epix, giving it full control over the premium network.
List of channels
Depending on the service provider, Epix provides up to eight multiplex channels – four 24-hour multiplex channels, three of which are simulcast in both standard definition and high definition (with the exception of EPIX Drive-In, which broadcasts solely in standard definition) – as well as a subscription video-on-demand service (Epix on Demand).
Two of the multiplex channels – EPIX2 and EPIX Hits – maintain less extensive distribution than that of the primary Epix channel; as such, the availability of any of the two channels varies depending on the carrier (provider availability of the multiplex channels is noted within the descriptions in the table below). Epix broadcasts its primary channel on both Eastern and Pacific Time Zone schedules, while its multiplex channels are programmed solely on an Eastern Time Zone schedule.
|Channel||Description and programming|
|EPIX||The flagship channel; Epix airs blockbuster movies, original series, documentaries, and comedy and music specials. The network's high definition network broadcasts in the 1080i format, and all four networks listed below are downconverted to a 480i standard definition simulcast version on most wireline providers.|
|EPIX2||Epix's secondary channel; it offers additional movies and specials, as well as repeats of original series and documentaries seen on the primary channel. The channel launched on May 12, 2010 and is available only to subscribers of Atlantic Broadband, AT&T U-verse, Charter Spectrum (on systems formerly operated by Time Warner Cable), Dish Network, EPB Fiber Optics, Sling TV, and Verizon FiOS.|
|EPIX Hits||Similar to EPIX2, the channel features movies, first-run films, and original series and specials. Chronologically, EPIX3 was technically launched as Epix's fourth multiplex channel on January 1, 2012, under the name Epix 3; it is currently available only to subscribers of AT&T U-verse, legacy Time Warner Spectrum systems, Dish Network, EPB Fiber Optics, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV.|
|EPIX Drive-In||The channel features a mix of action, comedy, science fiction and horror films from the 1970s to the present. Chronologically, this channel (which was formerly known as The 3 From Epix until December 31, 2011) was originally launched as Epix's third multiplex channel on August 11, 2010; it is currently available only to subscribers of AT&T U-verse, legacy Time Warner Spectrum systems, Dish Network, EPB Fiber Optics, and Sling TV. It is available to all base subscribers of Sling TV and is separate from their Epix premium add-on.|
Epix HD (online streaming)
EPIX HD is the network's online on-demand service that is available on Epix.com, and also through apps for Android devices and Android TV, Apple iOS and Apple TV, Chromecast, Microsoft Xbox (both Xbox 360, and Xbox One), the Roku streaming player, select Samsung Smart TV models, and Sony PlayStation consoles. Live simulcasts of the four networks are also available to subscribers, depending on platform or mode of access. Epix launched its on-demand streaming service to the public on October 29, 2009, one day before the launch of the linear channel. The service requires a subscription to one of the channel's participating television providers in order to access program content.
Epix On Demand
Epix On Demand is Epix's television video on demand service that is available to the channel's subscribers at no additional cost. It offers feature films, and original concert and stand-up comedy specials that were previously seen on the network. Epix On Demand's rotating program selection incorporates select new titles that are added each Friday, alongside existing program titles held over from the previous one to two weeks. It is available to Epix subscribers of Charter Communications (including the former Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks systems that are now part of Charter Spectrum), Cox Communications, Dish Network, Mediacom, Sling TV, and Verizon FiOS.
Epix currently has exclusive deals with major and smaller independent movie studios. As of January 2014[update], films featured on the channel primarily include recent releases and film library content from the network's three corporate parents: Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures (along with film content from its subsidiaries Paramount Vantage, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (along with content from subsidiary United Artists) and Lions Gate Entertainment (along with content from subsidiaries Mandate Pictures and Pantelion Films), as well as feature films from Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions (the latter of which is part-owned by Lionsgate, in conjunction with company founders Howard Cohen and Eric d'Arbeloff). Although Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment in January 2012, that studio maintains an existing film output deal with rival HBO, which began in 2013 through an initial five-year deal covering all Summit releases through 2017; Summit renewed the HBO contract for four additional years (extending to films released through 2022) on March 1, 2016, and as such, Summit's films are also restricted from airing on the networks of Lionsgate-owned competitor Starz.
The window between a film's initial release in theaters and its initial airing on Epix is stated to be slightly reduced in comparison to the grace period between its theatrical release and its first pay television broadcast on either HBO/Cinemax, Showtime or Starz; as such, films will have a longer broadcast duration during their term of license agreement than is currently possible with the other major premium channels. Epix's programming format is similar to that of the primary channel of Starz Encore, in that its schedule includes recent film releases that are interspersed with older movies released between the 1970s and the 1990s, with recently released films often scheduled alongside the older film titles during daytime and prime time slots.
Prior to the network's launch, Epix ordered its first original series pilot Tough Trade (to have been produced by corporate sister Lionsgate Television). The drama, created by Jenji Kohan (creator of Weeds and Orange Is the New Black), was to have centered on three generations of a dysfunctional family involved in country music. The pilot was filmed in late summer 2009 in Nashville, with the intent of being picked up to series for a 2010 debut; however, Epix declined to greenlight Tough Trade for a series order. The network's first original comedy special, Lewis Black's Stark Raving Black, premiered on the channel on December 5, 2009.
Laverne McKinnon (who previously served as head of drama development for CBS), resigned from her role as executive vice president of original programming and development for Epix on August 4, 2011. Thereafter, Epix remained active in producing other original programming exclusively for the channel, including documentaries, sports, comedy, and music specials. On June 30, 2012, Epix launched a monthly comedy special showcase called "EPIX Comedy Unbound", consisting of a new special premiering on the final weekend of each month; the first special to be aired as part of the showcase was Jim Norton: Please Be Offended.
In early 2015, Epix renewed its original scripted programming efforts after a four-year embargo, emphasizing development of drama series. These plans were cemented on January 12, 2015, when Epix hired Jocelyn Diaz – who, immediately prior to her appointment, had served as vice president of production at The Walt Disney Studios, and was previously head of drama development at HBO – as its executive vice president of original programming and development.
On July 8 of that year, Epix announced its first original scripted project to be picked up as a series, both of which are set for a fall 2016 debut: Graves, a political satire from Lionsgate Television and creator Joshua Michael Stern (with Nick Nolte and Sela Ward toplining the show's cast), about a former American president seeking to repair the damage caused by his administration, and Berlin Station, an espionage drama produced by Paramount Television, about a CIA agent's quest to uncover an information leak at the agency's Berlin office. The two series made their debuts on October 16, 2016.
The network would expand its series development in May 2016, when Epix ordered a thriller comedy series based on the 1990 book and 1995 film adaptation Get Shorty – with Ray Romano tapped to headline its cast – to be produced by MGM Television. Subsequently, in January 2017, the network ordered the comedy pilot Picture Paris – a series adaptation of the 2011 short film written by Brad Hall, who was tapped as its showrunner – straight to series; the program would mark the first major television role by Meg Ryan, who was tapped as its star, since her supporting main role in the short-lived 1985 ABC western series Wildside.
On March 19, 2011, Epix became the third premium cable channel – after HBO and Showtime – to air professional boxing events with the telecast of a heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Odlanier Solis, held in Cologne, Germany. In addition to airing on the linear Epix channel, the fight was also streamed live on the channel's website. The fight was the first heavyweight title event to air on American television since Klitschko's September 2009 match against Chris Arreola (which aired one month prior to Epix's debut), and the first televised heavyweight championship bout since Klitschko's December 2009 match against Kevin Johnson.
Epix also serves as the broadcast rightsholder for the Bellator Fighting Championships mixed martial arts tournament, which carries its events over multiplex channel EPIX2, instead of the primary channel.
Beginning with the National Hockey League's 2014–15 season and concluding until the 2016–17 season, Epix also held the rights to broadcast documentary series leading up to some of the league's major events, starting with the 2015 Winter Classic. This was discontinued for the 2017–18 season, when those series were moved to NBCSN.
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