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Sony Pictures TV set to acquire American Idol producer Industrial Media

Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is set to acquire Industrial Media, the non-fiction production group behind titles such as American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance and Indian Matchmaking, in a deal that values the company at around US$350m.

Eli Holzman

SPT said it is acquiring a majority controlling interest in Industrial Media, though it did not disclose the size of its stake. The transaction is still subject to standard closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

The deal represents a significant play for SPT in the unscripted space and brings Industrial Media’s portfolio of production companies – including 19 Entertainment, B17 Entertainment, House of NonFiction, Sharp Entertainment, The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC), This Machine Filmworks, This Radicle Act and Trilogy Films – under the Sony banner.

Industrial Media’s stable of prodcos make more than 100 shows across the globe, including the 90 Day Fiancé franchise for TLC, We’re Here for HBO, The Curse of Von Dutch and The D’Amelio Show for Hulu, Indian Matchmaking for Netflix, Secrets of Playboy for A&E, Selena+Chef and Craftopia for HBO Max, So You Think You Can Dance for Fox and American Idol for ABC, the latter of which is coproduced by 19 Entertainment. The company has around 100 employees across LA, New York and Atlanta.

Aaron Saidman

When the deal closes, Eli Holzman, CEO of Industrial Media and founder and CEO of The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC), will join SPT as president of non-fiction entertainment. Aaron Saidman, Industrial Media president and co-founder and president of IPC, will join SPT as co-president, non-fiction entertainment.

Holzman will report to Ravi Ahuja, chairman of Global Television Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment corporate development, and Saidman will report to Holzman. Both Holzman and Saidman will oversee day-to-day operations of SPT’s non-fiction division.

Alongside news of the acquisition, SPT revealed it will launch a gameshow production division. It will be led by veteran SPT exec Suzanne Prete, who has been with the company since 1995, most recently as executive VP of business and strategy, overseeing the business operations of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

Suzanne Prete

Under the new structure, Prete will serve as executive VP of the new gameshow production division. She will add oversight of other gameshows to her remit.

Elsewhere in this significant shakeup of its unscripted operations, SPT’s executive VP of alternative and syndicated programming Holly Jacobs will support the integration of Industrial Media before transitioning to become a full-time producer under an overall deal with SPT.

Through the deal, Jacobs will develop and executive produce original programming for the studio and continue to support SPT shows currently in production. In the 15 years since she helped establish SPT’s alternative programming division, Jacobs has produced series such as Shark Tank, The Dr Oz Show, The $100,000 Pyramid, Murder House Flip and Men in Kilts.

“Acquiring Industrial Media gives us scale and expertise that nicely complements our current TV production businesses,” said Ahuja.

“Eli, Aaron and their talented group of producers have consistently succeeded with high-quality series and documentaries. We can’t wait to get to work with them.”

More broadly, the deal adds significant executive firepower and experience to the SPT ranks. Execs and company founders joining the SPT fold include: Matt Sharp, CEO and founder of Sharp Entertainment (TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé franchise, Travel Channel’s Man V Food); RJ Cutler, president of This Machine Filmworks (Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry); Brien Meagher and Rhett Bachner, founders of B17 Entertainment (Chasing the Cure, Craftopia); Dawn Porter, founder of Trilogy Films (director and executive producer of mental health documentary series The Me You Can’t See); Alex Stapleton, founder of House of NonFiction (Pride for FX); and award-winning actor, director and producer Don Cheadle, who launched This Radicle Act in 2019.

“This is the most exciting time in the non-fiction business with more opportunity and more content being made than at any other period in the history of the genre,” said Holzman and Saidman.

“At Industrial, we have assembled some of our industry’s most sought-after storytellers. And now we have partnered with a leading independent supplier to the global film and television marketplace. Our ambition in working with Tony, Ravi and the Sony Pictures Television team is to supercharge our growth, amplify our ability to attract the very best talent both in front of and behind the camera, and to continue pushing the boundaries of the medium.”

The company was formed in 2018 when Core Media acquired IPC and rebranded as Industrial Media. That came two years after Crestview Partners, BlackRock and United Talent Agency (UTA) invested in and acquired Core Media Group after it had filed for bankruptcy. Since then, the company’s “revenue and profits have soared,” according to Industrial Media.

Crestview Partners co-president Brian Cassidy, BlackRock’s director Jeff Gordon, and UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said: “We set out to grow Industrial Media into a pre-eminent television production entity and we are thrilled that Sony Pictures Television saw the value in the tremendous brand we have built.

“We are extremely proud of Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Matt Sharp, and Dennis Miller. Their creative energy and astute business acumen have turned Industrial Media into a major content supplier. Sony is the perfect home for Industrial Media and we look forward to seeing it continue to flourish as Sony Pictures Television Nonfiction.”


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