Mark Burnett, Hearst Team Up for Joint Venture

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Hearst will acquire a “substantial” stake in his production business, and the venture will create TV, live event and other content across emerging media platforms, including content that leverages Hearst brands.

NEW YORK – Hearst Corp. and Mark Burnett, the TV producer behind such reality hits as Survivor and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, said Monday they have formed a 50:50 media, production and events-based joint venture, with Hearst acquiring a “substantial” stake in Burnett’s existing production business as part of the deal.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The venture announcement was made by Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr. and Burnett.

The new global venture will focus on "media content, producing events around that content and spinning off television shows and other programming for new and emerging platforms based on Hearst brands," while also expanding Burnett’s domestic and international production business, the companies said.

Excluded from the venture are Survivor and The Apprentice. Upcoming Burnett series include The Voice on NBC, Expedition Impossible on ABC and the Audrina Patridge Show on VH-1.

Hearst magazine brands include Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and O, The Oprah Magazine. Hearst also owns stakes in such cable networks as Lifetime, A&E, History and ESPN.

Scott Sassa, president, Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, will lead the new venture’s board of directors along with Burnett.

“The most successful companies are those that can surround the consumer with world-class content based on their brands.” said Bennack: “We see the media production business as a great opportunity to leverage Hearst’s brands across platforms and continue our move into new businesses. We see this as a growth opportunity for us that diversifies our revenue streams and we are happy to have Mark - a visionary in the reality genre - as a partner.”

Said Burnett: “Content is king, and with more screens needing entertaining content now than at any time in history, that statement is truer than ever. Hearst’s iconic brands will be an incredible creative addition for me and will translate perfectly into the vision for the future that Frank, Scott and I all share. In fact, we already have great projects in the works.”

"Survivor is to nonfiction what I Love Lucy is to sitcoms; it is the starting point for all of today’s storyline-based unscripted shows,” Sassa said. “This venture provides Mark a platform and freedom to continue and grow his unique type of innovation. Together, we have a vision to create shows that have 360-degree businesses built around them."