Ben Silverman Reunites with Howard Owens at Propagate Content

Howard T. Owens Ben Silverman
National Geographic Channels/Rex Shutterstock

Ben Silverman has reunited with a longtime partner, joining Howard T. Owens as co-chairman and CEO of the A+E Networks-backed production company Propagate Content.

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.

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“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.

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Howard Owens David McKillop

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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.

 

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  1. Robin says:

    With Ben and Howard’s business acumen and their relationships, Propagate is a homerun. Now they just need to give me a job.

  2. The Truth says:

    Ben Silverman has never had an original idea in his Teflon career. Any successes he’s enjoyed at involved Americanizing proven international properties or executive production piggybacking. Of course, identifying shows ripe for transplantation, then developing and selling them here is a talent, but of parasitic rather than visionary dimensions. Everyone knows Ben was the most flagrant executive flop in NBC history. The only reason he lasted two years was because it was cheaper to let his contract expire than to buy him out. Somehow he managed a lengthier run at Electus, which is basically a bunch of capital infusion co-production deals with other shops who do all the real work on a roster of weak “me-too” programs. Why A&E would think Owens and Silverman are a good bet at Propagate is a mystery, especially with McKillop bolting after just 11 months. Perhaps they believe the Apple app show looks like a winner. Even though Steve Jobs is long gone, the reality distortion field lives on.

    • Oscar the Grouch says:

      You’re an idiot who probably takes lukewarm baths and a lot of naps. Ever hear the phrase “If you ain’t gettin hated on, you ain’t doin it right.”? Probably not, because you write like a blueblood Northeasterner by way of a rich daddy from a country that isn’t America who has had every single luxury handed to him like a sad, shriveled piece of garbage who can’t stand living in a gold dumpster. Enjoy it. Take a deep whiff. Because that’s where you are staying.

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