IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX) has acquired SSIMWAVE Inc., a specialist in AI-driven video quality technology for media and entertainment companies. Under the terms of an agreement announced Sept. 22, IMAX acquired SSIMWAVE for $18.5 million in cash and $2.5 million in stock with additional earnout consideration of $4 million, subject to achieving certain operating performance and financial objectives. The transaction is expected to be accretive in 2023 and have minimal financial impact in 2022.
IMAX said it will work with SSIMWAVE in the near term to further grow its business and product suite, including international expansion. Longer-term, IMAX’s technology and post-production teams will work with SSIMWAVE’s engineering team to develop new solutions for delivering IMAX-quality video experiences across platforms, around the world.
The acquisition marks a significant expansion of IMAX’s stated "strategy to deliver the highest quality video images on any screen — to drive new, recurring revenue and grow its global leadership in entertainment technology."
Through its patented, two-time Emmy Award winning technology, Ontario-based SSIMWAVE enables streaming and broadcast providers to deliver the best possible image on any device for on-demand and live video. With the explosion in video consumption across platforms, the firm notes how the need for video optimization continues to grow as consumers demand higher resolution including 4K, 8k and new, interactive experiences across gaming, VR, AR, and the metaverse. Additionally, leading filmmakers and creators increasingly demand solutions to ensure the fidelity and quality of their work on any screen.
In response to such demand, SSIMWAVE contends that its 30-person engineering team "has mapped the human visual system to produce one of the most accurate measures of perceptual quality, which its AI-driven software applies to enhance video streams and files in real time."
Founded at Ontario’s University of Waterloo, SSIMWAVE further contends its technology has improved the viewer experience of more than 150 million subscribers over billions of viewing hours to date. The technology is protected with 50 patents and patents pending globally.
SSIMWAVE has won a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award (2020) and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering (2015). SSIMWAVE was also honored as a Best New Streaming Technology winner in the NAB Show Product of the Year Awards in both 2022 and 2021.
IMAX stated that the acquisition builds on the brand's cross-platform expansion with IMAX Enhanced, which brings The IMAX Experience(R) to streaming entertainment with exclusive expanded aspect ratio technology, digitally remastered content, and the signature IMAX sound. More than 200 IMAX Enhanced titles are available across streaming platforms worldwide, including Disney+, and more than 10 million IMAX Enhanced certified devices are in the market today.
The firms note that four of the world’s top-ten streaming media companies currently partner with SSIMWAVE to optimize video, including Disney, Paramount Global, and Warner Bros. Discovery.
“SSIMWAVE is doing revolutionary work at the intersection of human visual perception and image enhancement technology. By putting the power of our global brand behind their award-winning engineering team and product suite, IMAX takes a big step toward a new horizon in our ability to deliver the best images for any creator, across every screen. In the near-term, SSIMWAVE brings to IMAX new, SaaS-based revenue and a world-class client roster that tightly aligns with some of our strongest, most successful content partnerships. SSIMWAVE boasts a brilliant team of engineers, technologists, and academics obsessed with image quality and on the leading edge of Ontario’s thriving tech community; the similarities between this company and IMAX when we acquired it nearly 30 years ago are uncanny,” continued Gelfond. “We look forward to scaling SSIMWAVE’s business and taking it in never-before-imagined directions around the world just as we did with IMAX’s game-changing projection technology.” -- Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX“Viewers and content creators expect more from video experiences. By joining IMAX, SSIMWAVE will be even better positioned to preserve creators’ intent and enable engaging, differentiated viewing experiences to millions of users across platforms. We’re excited to join IMAX and tap into its global scale and expertise as more streamers turn to SSIMWAVE to ensure the best viewing experiences while reducing bandwidth costs.” -- Dr. Abdul Rehman, CEO and co-founder of SSIMWAVE