Entertainment Studios has acquired the Weather Group, parent company of the Weather Channel television network and Local Now streaming service. The sellers were Blackstone, Bain Capital and Comcast/NBC Universal. No financial terms were disclosed. Ropes & Gray and Jones Day represented the Weather Channel on the deal while Morgan Stanley, Allen & Company and PJT Partners provided financial advice.
LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Entertainment Studios, Inc., (www.es.tv) one of the largest independent producers and distributors of film and television, with 41 shows on the air, and owner of eight 24-hour HD cable television networks reaching nearly 160 million aggregate subscribers nationwide, proudly announces its acquisition of the WEATHER GROUP, parent company of THE WEATHER CHANNEL television network and LOCAL NOW streaming service. Allen purchased the WEATHER GROUP through his company, Allen Media LLC, from The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and Comcast/NBCUniversal.
Allen’s expansion into live and local cable news is the latest step Entertainment Studios has taken in further expanding the global reach of its programming and content. The Entertainment Studios divisions now include: broadcast television syndication, production, and distribution of more than 41 programs, eight 24/7 cable television networks, theatrical motion picture production, acquisition and distribution, digital movie acquisition and distribution, and global news publishing – making Entertainment Studios one of the largest privately-held media companies in the world. Entertainment Studios is one hundred percent owned by Byron Allen, who started the company from his dining room table 25 years ago.
THE WEATHER CHANNEL is one of the largest cable television networks not owned by a major conglomerate, and ranks number one in weather news. Harris Poll has ranked THE WEATHER CHANNEL as the “TV News Brand of the Year” for eight years in a row, and the network is the nation’s most trusted resource for daily weather information. During the most recent 2017 hurricane season, THE WEATHER CHANNEL was the number one network for live coverage during Hurricane Harvey, while one in three American households followed Hurricane Irma on THE WEATHER CHANNEL.
“The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives,” said Byron Allen, Founder, Chairman, & CEO of Entertainment Studios. “We welcome The Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of The Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”
“We are excited to join Entertainment Studios, and we are especially proud to be part of one of the largest emerging global media companies,” said Dave Shull, CEO of THE WEATHER CHANNEL. “Byron Allen’s purchase of our innovative and forward-thinking organization will increase the value we bring to our viewers, distributors, and advertisers.”
Byron Allen’s acquisition of THE WEATHER CHANNEL through his wholly-owned Allen Media LLC was represented by the law firms Sklar Kirsh, Nelson Mullins, and Loeb & Loeb. THE WEATHER CHANNEL was represented in the transaction by the law firms Ropes & Gray and Jones Day, and its financial advisors included Morgan Stanley, Allen & Company, and PJT Partners.
About Entertainment Studios
Chairman and CEO Byron Allen founded Entertainment Studios in 1993. Headquartered in Los Angeles, it has offices in New York, Chicago, Denver, and Raleigh. Entertainment Studios owns eight 24-hour HD cable television networks serving nearly 160 million subscribers: THE WEATHER CHANNEL, PETS.TV, COMEDY.TV, RECIPE.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, and JUSTICE CENTRAL.TV. The company also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 41 television programs, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations. With a library of over 5,000 hours of owned content across multiple genres, Entertainment Studios provides video content to broadcast television stations, cable television networks, mobile devices, multimedia platforms, and the World Wide Web. Our mission is to provide excellent programming to our viewers, online users, and Fortune 500 advertising partners.
In 2015, Entertainment Studios purchased Freestyle Releasing, now called Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, a full-service, theatrical motion picture distribution company that specializes in representing independent companies, major studios, and mini-major studios for the purpose of exhibiting their films as first-class theatrical releases. ESMP released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN, which has grossed over $44.3 million to date, and the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES. The digital distribution unit of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Freestyle Digital Media, supplies quality commercial film and TV content directly to all US VOD/SVOD rental DVD/Kiosks and theaters using the latest cloud-based technologies to automate digital workflow. Freestyle Digital Media provides our content audience a positive digital viewing experience on every device everywhere.
In 2016, Entertainment Studios purchased TheGrio, a digital video-centric news community platform devoted to providing African-Americans with compelling stories and perspectives currently underrepresented in existing national news outlets. TheGrio features aggregated and original video packages, news articles and opinion pieces on topics that include breaking news, politics, health, business and entertainment. Originally launched in 2009, the platform was then purchased by NBC News in 2010. The digital platform remains focused on curating exciting digital content and currently has more than 20 million annual visitors.
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About The Weather Channel
For more than 35 years, The Weather Channel has been the leader in severe weather coverage, providing the most comprehensive analysis of any media outlet and serving as the nation’s only 24-hour source of national storm coverage. For seven years in a row, Harris Poll has ranked The Weather Channel as the “TV News Brand of the Year.” With trusted meteorologists who analyze, forecast and report the weather – its expertise is unrivaled. Engaging with fans and delivering content to feed their fascination with all things weather is paramount to the network’s mission. With the recently launched community platform, weloveweather.tv, the network created a 2-way dialogue with fans, establishing an ongoing relationship with those that have a passion for weather. For more information visit www.weathergroup.com
About Local Now
Local Now is a streaming service that is changing the way Americans access information about their communities. Powered by the Weather Channel and other leading content partners, Local Now delivers real-time, hyper-local news, weather, traffic, sports, and lifestyle content. With unique technology that transmits localized information to hundreds of markets across the United States, Local Now delivers the same information seen in a 30 to 60 minute local news broadcast segment, to fit with viewers own schedules and in a fraction of the time. Local Now is available on Roku, SlingTV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, and other major OTT platforms.