Ron Burkle, Richard Beckman Team for Branded Entertainment Venture (Exclusive)
Looking to integrate television and digital production with advertisers to create multiplatform branded entertainment, Hollywood investor Ron Burkle has teamed with publishing veteran Richard Beckman to form Three Lions Entertainment.
Beckman, who worked for much of his career as a publishing executive at Conde Nast before helping launch Prometheus Global Media (publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and other magazines), says the venture is the culmination of everything he has done and puts into motion ideas he has worked on for years.
“I really think there is a white space in the marketplace in terms of companies that create content and also monetize it in other channels to sponsors and advertisers, as well as the distributor,” Beckman, who is CEO of the New York-based venture, tells THR.
Beckman was introduced to Burkle, the billionaire investor and former supermarket mogul whose interests include a stake in Relativity Media, through Joel Katz, a well-known entertainment lawyer at Greenberg Traurig. Katz is a minority partner in Three Lions and will serve as a board member and adviser while continuing his day job.
“Most television producers get a license fee from a network, and their profitability is basically made from the difference between what it costs to produce a show and the license fee," Katz tells THR. "This is different in that you produce the show and get a time slot, and you might even get a cash contribution from the network, but then you deal directly with advertisers to package the show and the talent as a totally integrated process. There is no one doing that right now.”
Beckman and Katz wouldn't say how much Burkle is investing in the venture. In a statement, Burkle tells THR he was lured to Three Lions because it presents an opportunity in an expanding area.
“The intersection of quality entertainment and marketing is the golden equation for brands wanting to move the needle with consumers today,” Burkle says in the statement. “Three Lions Entertainment is positioned to maximize a brand’s return on their investment. The company will be of significant value in the marketplace.”
Beckman also is bringing to Three Lions his relationship with producer Don Mischer, whose credits include the Academy Awards, the Emmys, the Super Bowl halftime show and the Kennedy Center Honors.
Mischer is on board to produce one of Three Lions' first productions, a revival of the show Fashion Rocks, which is expected to mix fashion and music into a two-hour entertainment special on a broadcast network.
Beckman was involved with five Fashion Rocks specials while at Conde Nast, the most recent in 2008. That show included performances by Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Rihanna and was hosted by Denis Leary. No talent is set for the revival of Fashion Rocks, which is scheduled for 2014, but Beckman says he again will look for top-tier names from fashion and music to participate.
Beckman calls the network telecast “the tip of the iceberg.” There will be a web portal launched months in advance that will stay online for months after the show. Beckman envisions ancillary content on digital platforms and social media and possibly spinoff TV specials for cable. There also will be print magazines tied to the event. “That’s a very rich fishing ground in terms of the amount of content you can create around it,” he says.
He acquired the rights to Fashion Rocks from the Gross Family Foundation of New York, from which he first licensed it in 2004 when he was at Conde Nast.
Beckman, who served as CEO of Prometheus Global Media (now Guggenheim Digital Media) from 2010 to 2012, also has made a deal with Conde Nast to revive Movies Rock, which aired once in 2007.
It all will come packaged with advertiser involvement and include product integration in the shows.
“With so much desire by advertisers to invest themselves with the editorial content of the shows,” says Beckman, “intelligent and sophisticated integrations will be very much what we would look to do for our advertisers.”
Beckman says he also will be working with producer Done and Dusted, which creates content around big events.
“This is a truly multiplatform proposition,” the executive says. “It's designed to be across multiple channels, and that is very appealing to advertisers today.”