A+E Networks has acquired a 35% stake in the Canadian production banner Reel One, a majority-owned subsidiary of Newen, which is itself owned by France’s TF1 Group.
Headquartered in Montreal with offices in Los Angeles, London and Buenos Aires, Reel One was founded in 2001 by Tom Berry and acquired by Newen in 2019. The company has become a key purveyor of TV film production and licensing in North America and overseas, with nearly 100 television titles produced per year.
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This new shareholder will allow Reel One to accelerate its growth in production and distribution in North America. On top of becoming a shareholder in Reel One, A+E Networks has signed a multi-year output deal with the company to acquire 40 titles produced by Reel One every year. Newen remains a majority shareholder in Reel One with a 51% stake.
“Reel One is a leading global player in the highly attractive made-for-TV movie space,” says David Bank, executive VP of corporate development and strategy at A+E Networks. “We’ve historically enjoyed a great commercial partnership with them and are highly confident that this transaction will allow us to create even greater value on a strategic basis,” says Bank.
Romain Bessi, Newen’s managing director, points out Reel One’s productions represent almost a 30% market share of U.S. TV movies worldwide. Daytime TV movies are particularly appealing because they are well-polished with contained budgets and are popular amongst prime commercial targets, meaning middle-aged female audiences, says Bessi. Aside from this output deal with A+E Networks, Reel One will continue working with other broadcasters and streamers on at least 60 more productions.
Some content synergies will also be developed between A+E Networks, Reel One, Newen and its corporate parent, TF1 Group, and its portfolio of 6,000 hours and more than 1,000 films.
Bank says “having a close strategic relationship with an acclaimed production partner like Reel One, part of the TF1 portfolio, opens the potential for a myriad opportunities.”
“It’s early days in our partnership, but we look forward to collaborating as we seek to super-serve the global content supply market, particularly in the made-for-TV movie space. And we believe there is great opportunity beyond this genre,” says Bank.
“We are envisioning many opportunities for collaborations with A+E Networks, notably on the production and distribution of our formats and daytime programming,” says Bessi, who mentioned the crossover between Newen’s European footprint and A+E Networks’ DNA. “It’s a great alliance because we have similar visions and ambitions,” adds Bessi.
“More than ever, it’s crucial for companies like ours to join forces, and having an Anglo-Saxon group like A+E as our partner in Reel One is key to reach a critical size and allow us to rival consolidated global banners,” says Bessi. The well-respected executive says Newen will continue focusing on European IP. The banner is currently looking to expand its presence in Germany and Italy, as well as in the U.K., through partnerships.
Under the pact, Newen remains the majority shareholder of Reel One. Berry also remains an owner of Reel One with a 14% stake, and has extended his commitment to continue as CEO of Reel One. The Reel One Board of Directors now includes four representatives of Newen, two representatives of A+E Networks, and Berry.
Berry says the deal builds on Reel One’s existing business partnership with A+E Networks and is “a very good fit with Newen and the TF1 Group.”
“This will help to drive Reel One’s growth and strengthen its relationships with broadcasters and digital platforms worldwide,” says the executive.
Newen has grown internationally with the acquisition of companies such as Tuvalu and Pupkin in the Netherlands, Nimbus in Denmark, De Mensen in Belgium, Ringside and Fictionhouse in the U.K., and iZen and Kubik Films in Spain, along with Reel One in Canada.
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