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Chicken Soup acquires Sonar assets

US producer, distributor and AVoD operator Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSSE) has acquired the film and TV assets of David Ellender-led producer and distributor Sonar Entertainment.

David Ellender

Sonar is an independent television studio headquartered in LA, with operations in Toronto and London. In recent years, it has developed, produced, financed and distributed shows such as The Shannara Chronicles (MTV/Netflix), Taboo (BBC/FX), The Son (AMC), Mr Mercedes (DirecTV), Das Boot (Sky Europe), Hunters (Amazon Prime), Alien Xmas (Netflix) and Mysterious Benedict Society (Disney+).

CSSE said today that acquiring Sonar would help it build on its AVoD streaming strategy by expanding its original content development pipeline, increasing its IP ownership, enabling it to launch additional AVoD networks and grow its international production and distribution.

CSSE-owned Screen Media will distribute Sonar’s film and television library after the deal closes.

The library, which comprises more than 1,000 titles and 4,000 hours of programming, ranges from classic shorts of Little Rascals, Laurel & Hardy and Blondie (produced by Hal Roach Studios) to event miniseries such as Lonesome Dove and Dinotopia (produced by RHI, Robert Halmi International). It also includes hundreds of movies that originally premiered on the Hallmark, Lifetime and Showtime networks.

Former Fremantle exec David Ellender has led Sonar as CEO since 2019, having first joined the company in 2016.

“The Sonar Entertainment assets are a perfect fit with our objective of building the industry’s best AVoD offering,” said William J Rouhana Jr, CEO of CSSE.

“This acquisition will not only have immense strategic value, positioning us to launch AVoD networks with a critical mass of proven content that fits our desired audiences, but will also give us ownership of several franchise television series and add proven television executive talent.”

Ellender added: “Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Screen Media are the perfect partners for maximising this library’s potential far into the future. So much of this catalogue is a perfect fit for the current and emerging AVoD-driven markets in the US and abroad.”

The deal will see an advance payment made to the seller at closing, to be recouped by CSSE upon the sale or licensing of certain television rights. In addition, Sonar will receive 5% of the ownership of a new AVoD network that will be created in part with the Sonar library.

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