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Sony Pictures Television is making a strategic push into unscripted content, buying a majority stake in Industrial Media that values the company at $350 million.
Industrial Media was formed in 2018 in a merger between Core Media Group and Eli Holzman’s The Intellectual Property Corp. (IPC), with Crestview Partners, BlackRock and UTA among its investors. It produces over 100 unscripted programs, most notably the 90 Day Fiancé franchise for TLC, Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, Selena+Chef and Craftopia for HBO Max, and ABC’s American Idol, for which it serves as a co-producer with Fremantle.
After the deal closes, Holzman will join SPT as president of nonfiction entertainment, reporting to Ravi Ahuja, Sony chairman of global television studios and SPE corporate development. Holzman’s longtime producing partner Aaron Saidman will become co-president of nonfiction entertainment for SPT, reporting to Holzman. Moelis & Company advised Industrial Media on the transaction.
The deal is a significant bet on unscripted content for Sony, which has a long history of producing scripted content and game shows, but less of a presence in nonfiction and unscripted programming.
“At SPT our focus is on leadership and quality in growing areas of television, and nonfiction content makes up a significant share of TV viewing,” Ahuja said in a statement. “Acquiring Industrial Media gives us scale and expertise that nicely complements our current TV production businesses.”
Following the transaction, Holly Jacobs, SPT’s executive vp of alternative and syndicated programming, will leave her role to become a producer with an overall deal at Sony.
In addition, Sony announced an expansion of game show content, naming Suzanne Prete executive vp of game show production. Prete, the executive who oversees Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, will develop and produce new game show content while continuing to oversee the popular syndicated shows.
“Suzanne has done a fantastic job at Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! and I have every confidence in her taking on this expanded role with game shows at the studio,” Ahuja added. “Holly and her team have built a respected alternative and syndicated programming business over the years, creating shows that have become part of the national Zeitgeist. We look forward to continuing to produce these important programs and creating exciting new series with Holly in the future.”
The deal suggests that Sony still sees growth potential in game shows, which remain a staple of TV programming but have thus far not really taken off in streaming. Last year Sony sold its GSN Games studio to Scopely for $1 billion, with the CEO of GSN Mark Feldman also leaving for the video game developer. The move left the GSN cable channel in flux, however Sony named a new president, John Zaccario in December.
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