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Talent agency UTA is acquiring the entertainment-focused data and analytics firm MediaHound, expanding its presence in the data side of the entertainment business, and bolstering its research and insights capabilities.
According to UTA partner and head of UTA IQ Joe Kessler, the deal stemmed from a project that UTA was thinking about working on with MediaHound.
“COVID disrupted that project, but we stayed in touch and became increasingly impressed with their technology and team and how it could accelerate our data analytics roadmap,” Kessler tells The Hollywood Reporter. “That led us to where we are today.”
MediaHound’s team of engineers and developers will join UTA as part of its UTA IQ division. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though MediaHound has raised more than $12 million from investors since its founding in 2011, according to CrunchBase. In fact, Kessler says that UTA has been a small shareholder in MediaHound for years due to a seed investment made in a USC accelerator program.
UTA, like other agencies, has long used data to help inform its other lines of business, including representation.
“UTA uses data and analytics in many different ways but chiefly in order to gain a clear, objective, and compelling understanding of our clients’ value in the marketplace,” Kessler says. “At one time, it was enough for an agency to simply use Nielsen ratings and box office receipts to understand the performance value of talent and content. But, today, with the distribution of media being so much more complex across multiple platforms and audience touchpoints, we need to ingest and analyze our data in ways that help us, our clients, and our buyers gain a true assessment of the full impact of an artist’s work.”
“However, there aren’t any third-party data platforms that are designed specifically for the use cases that arise in talent agencies since there are so few companies like ours,” Kessler added. “So, in MediaHound, we saw an opportunity to leverage their IP – The Entertainment Graph, in particular – to provide us with more comprehensive data that could drive deeper insights as well as a proven team who could architect and build our data analytics system of the future, one that serves our unique needs and give us and our clients meaningful strategic advantage.”
In other words, in a fractured content landscape with rapidly changing windows and business models, understanding the value that talent brings to a film, commercial or TV project is critical for the agency.
“Although Talent and creativity remain the coin of the realm, data aligned with strong insights is also a critical tool for our colleagues and clients,” says Jeremy Zimmer, UTA’s CEO. “Today’s acquisition is a strong addition to the potency of our capabilities in this space.”
That’s where MediaHound’s Entertainment Graph comes in, pulling metadata like the talent and creators, genres, fandoms, etc to help UTA figure out the value their clients bring to those projects.
“For example, in setting the title comparisons that often form the basis of establishing the value of a film or TV show, we can go beyond the typical traits of that content and zero in, for instance, on specific story arcs or character identities, among hundreds of other traits,” Kessler says. “The more finely we can analyze that data, and the more we can integrate it with our other data sources, the more accurately we can assess the value of the content, and the more likely it is that we can identify patterns that help us drive value for our clients and see what’s coming next.”
UTA has been opportunistic when it comes to M&A, as Zimmer telegraphed to THR in an interview in December. That month the company acquired the strategic advisory and marketing consultancy MediaLink in a $125 million deal. As part of that acquisition, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan and his team joined UTA, with the agency folding its UTA Marketing division into MediaLink.
Many of UTA’s competitors have also been aggressive with acquisitions, with Endeavor acquiring the sports betting data company OpenBet, and a number of minor league baseball teams, and CAA striking a deal to buy ICM partners, though regulatory scrutiny may threaten that acquisition.
While MediaHound’s core business is built on its software and data, it also operates two consumer-facing websites, “Date Night” and “Autum,” which are designed to help consumers figure out what content they will want to watch.
“In UTA, we found a partner that shares our vision and ideals about the growing value and impact of data-driven software solutions in entertainment and media,” said Addison McCaleb, CEO and founder of MediaHound, in a statement. “We could not be happier than to move into the next phase of our evolution as part of such a dynamic, visionary company.”
MediaHound’s financial advisor for the deal was Qualia Legacy Advisors.
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