Silverman’s arrival at Propagate comes as the Los Angeles-based company receives another round of funding from A+E, which teamed with Owens to launch the company early last year. Former A&E Network programming chief David McKillop had partnered with Owens at the start but has since left to return to New York. He intends to work with Propagate on several projects.
Owens and Silverman signaled that they were joining forces again last month when Apple announced that the pair and Will.i.am are producing an unscripted series for the tech giant that will follow the personalities and behind the development of Apple Store apps. Silverman last month also formalized his exit from Electus, the production-distribution banner he launched in 2009 with backing from Barry Diller’s IAC.
“I have always admired Ben and Howard’s long and lucrative track record of building thriving businesses together,” said A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc. “They are two of Hollywood’s most impressive and prolific producers, and we are very much looking forward to our successful partnership as they develop and produce multiplatform content for the global marketplace.”
Silverman said he was glad to be back in business with Owens, given the “shorthand” between the two after many years of working together. And Dubuc’s support will allow Propagate to implement its vision of driving hard to build an international network of production entities and rev up its format sales around the world.
“Nancy’s decisive,” Silverman told Variety. “She understands where the market is heading and wants to be ahead of that curve.”
Propagate has been seeded by A+E Network but the company can act as a free agent without a formal first-look arrangement with A+E cablers. Nonetheless, History, A&E and Lifetime are a good fit with the kind of scripted and unscripted projects that Propagate hopes to field for worldwide audiences.
Owens and Silverman were previously partners in Reveille, the company Silverman launched in 2002. The two previously worked together when Silverman was a top TV agent at William Morris Agency. After Reveille, Silverman spent two years as chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment before launching Propagate.
“There is no media leader who sees around corners with more creative clarity than Ben,” Owens said. “Ben’s skill at leading, inspiring and managing creatives always results in creating companies that are best-in-class worldwide in premium content creation and alternative distribution models.”
Silverman is bringing a handful of pre-existing projects to Propagate, including a scripted project at Amazon and a Latino documentary project produced by Gina Rodriguez and Morgan Spurlock. Silverman helped shepherd the Rodriguez starrer “Jane the Virgin,” an adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela, to the CW.
A+E Networks’ renewed investment in Propagate is another sign of cable giants investing big in content with the goal of profiting from the booming global market for high-end series, even beyond shows destined for their own outlets, and unscripted formats.
Owens launched Propagate Content last year after a three-year run as president of National Geographic Channel.