German production giant spreads wings in U.S.
As it continues to diversify and expand its operations, German media giant Pro-SiebenSat.1 has seen its production and global sales division grow dramatically this year.After launching Red Arrow Entertainment in 2010, with the aim of developing and producing TV content for the international market (it comprises a broad portfolio of 18 international production companies across nine countries and an international sales arm), in recent months, Red Arrow has expanded its operations in the U.S., with the acquisition of New York-based producer Left/Right, and seen a boost in global sales of its productions. “The strategy all along has been to establish our production footprint in the territories that we really thought were essential for us,” says Red Arrow managing director Jan Frouman. An important aspect of Red Arrow’s growth strategy has been to retain the management teams of its new acquisitions. “Even before we close a deal, we want to know that the people we’re about to go into business with want to be part of a group — and in all cases we’ve kept the existing management team,” Frouman says. “There’s a real give and take, a lot of cross-border development that is going on and plenty of reaching out from one production company to another without any intervention from the team here at the holding company.” Left/Right’s broad production slate includes “This American Life” for Showtime, VH1’s “Mob Wives,” “Home by Novogratz” for HGTV and AMC’s “Small Town Security.” Red Arrow’s Los Angeles-based subsidiary Fuse Entertainment, meanwhile, has teamed up with Michael Connelly and writer-producer Eric Overmyer to develop a TV series based on Connelly’s bestselling Harry Bosch book series, about an LAPD homicide detective. Fuse’s current productions include USA Network’s “Burn Notice.” This summer, ABC picked up the new cooking show “The Taste,” created and produced by Red Arrow’s Santa Monica-based subsid Kinetic Content. The cooking competition skein features food writer Nigella Lawson and chef Anthony Bourdain. Kinetic also produces ABC’s “You Deserve It” and “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” for NBC. Earlier this year, the group acquired two high-profile U.K. shingles, Hilary Bevan Jones’ TV and film production outfit Endor, which is co-producing the South Africa-shot miniseries “Restless” with the Sundance Channel, and format and entertainment producer CPL. In May, the group added majority interests in U.K. production company Nerd TV and Israeli outfit July August Prods. to its company lineup. In establishing a visible presence in the U.S. and the U.K. as well as Israel, Red Arrow is achieving the goal of bringing together a portfolio of production companies in those markets that the rest of the world looks to for imported content, Frouman says. Nerd specializes in factual entertainment and formats, and has a number of ongoing projects, including a major order from Discovery Networks and development deals in the U.K., U.S., Germany and France. July August focuses on original format development, scripted series and feature films, including gameshow “Still Standing,” which sold to NBC in the U.S. and China’s Jiangsu Broadcasting. After a period of fast growth, however, Frouman says it’s time for Red Arrow concentrate on integrating the new acquisitions into the group. “We were eager to close a further significant deal in the U.S. With Left/Right, we’ve not only achieved this, but we’ve partnered with the right team and the right company at the right phase in their history. We feel this is now the right time to be less acquisitive in the near term.” As part of the integration process, the group’s international sales division, SevenOne Intl., rebranded to Red Arrow Intl. in July. Reflecting the global ambition of its parent, Red Arrow Intl. operates offices in Los Angeles and Hong Kong apart from its Munich headquarters. In addition to the group’s content, it also handles international sales for titles from third party producers, including such shows as “Jo,” the upcoming Paris-set crime procedural co-created by former “Law & Order” showrunner Rene Balcer and produced by French web TF1 and Atlantique Prods.