Red Arrow pierces Blighty’s CPL

ProSiebenSat.1 expanding operations

BERLIN — ProSiebenSat.1 production group Red Arrow Entertainment has taken a majority stake in U.K. entertainment producer CPL.

The deal, announced Thursday during ProSiebenSat.1’s presentation of stellar 2011 financial results, marks Red Arrow’s first investment in Blighty’s strategically significant non-scripted market.

CPL has supplied hit entertainment and factual skeins to major U.K. broadcasters, including Sky One’s “A League of Their Own” and BBC Radio 4’s radio sitcom “When the Dog Dies,” starring Ronnie Corbett.

CPL’s management team, comprising Danielle Lux, Murray Boland, Heather Hampson and Janet Oakes, will continue to head the company, with Red Arrow U.K.’s managing directors, James Baker and Joel Denton, joining the CPL Board.

The deal gives CPL exclusive first-look access to Red Arrow’s growing slate of formats. ProSiebenSat.1’s international sales arm, SevenOne Intl., will sell new formats and shows produced by CPL worldwide.

“As it has been since the start, Red Arrow’s strategy is to partner with the best talent in key production markets around the world,” said Red Arrow managing director Jan Frouman. “CPL has proven to be outstanding at producing hit shows of the highest quality. As for the U.K. — if you’re serious about global production and distribution, you’re there.”

CPL’s Lux added, “This deal puts CPL at the heart of a group of the world’s best producers and format creators as well as a powerful global distributor. Access to the world market is key to this next phase in CPL’s growth; Red Arrow will take our new formats out into the world and we will bring the best of theirs into the U.K.”

News of the acquisition followed ProSiebenSat.1’s presentation of its strong financial performance last year. The group increased revenue by 6% year-on-year to Euros 2.76 billion ($3.68 billion) while net profit soared 12.4% to $412.6 million. ProSiebenSat.1 also reduced its debt by $2.4 billion.

ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Thomas Ebeling described 2011 as “another record year” for the company and added that the group was well on its way to achieving its goal of increasing revenue by $1 billion from 2010 to 2015.

“We have already achieved approximately 25% of the Euros 750 million ($1 billion) aimed for, and are therefore confident that we will realize our entire growth potential by 2015.”

The conglom is also expanding its pay TV offering in Germany as well as international sales operations abroad.

In May, it is launching new feevee channel ProSieben Fun while revamping its existing pay outlet Sat.1 Comedy, which will now be known as Sat.1 Emotions.

Aimed at a young demo, ProSieben Fun will feature the broadcaster’s most successful TV shows and comedy formats, some as German broadcast premieres, as well as blockbuster movies, U.S. series and sports events.

Sat.1 Emotions will offer telenovelas, primetime series and Sat.1 movies, some of which will also air as German TV premieres.

SevenOne Intl., meanwhile, is reaching out to Asia with a new branch office in Hong Kong. The worldwide distribution unit, which has already sold numerous TV formats in Asian markets, is looking to increase business in the region and particularly in Australia.

English-speaking markets are becoming increasingly important for SevenOne as it continues to expand its English-language content.

“Already today, more than 50% of all the world’s TV households are located in Asia,” noted SevenOne CEO Jens Richter. “This market offers tremendous long-term growth potential for us as a distribution company.”

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