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Core Media acquires Sharp reality shop

Deal furthers Core's expansion of production operations

Advancing its plan to expand aggressively in TV production, Core Media Group has acquired Gotham-based Sharp Entertainment.

The reality production shop is home to such skeins as Travel Channel’s “Man V. Food,” TLC’S “Extreme Couponing,” National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” and Animal Planet’s “Call of the Wildman.” Deal was unveiled Monday by Core Media prexy Marc Graboff and Sharp prexy and founder Matt Sharp.

Deal gives Core Media, formerly known as CKX, the ability to develop and produce programming from scratch. Sharp owns significant post-production infrastructure and its in biz with a range of cable networks.

Expanding Core’s reach in production has been a key focus for Graboff since he joined the company in January. CKX was acquired last year by private equity giant Apollo Global Management, which recruited Graboff to build up its operations. CKX had operated as a holding company for disparate assets such as 19 Entertainment, a producer of “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” and the rights to market the name and likenesses of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. It is no secret that Core is among the companies in the hunt for Dick Clark Prods., which was put on the block by parent company Red Zone Capital last month.

Sharp Entertainment “is the first wholly owned asset that gives us instantaneous capability to produce television,” Graboff told Variety. “Now we have the people and the facilities and the equipment to go from idea to delivery of content without having to go outside of the company.”

Sharp will retain its moniker and maintain separate offices from Core, with Matt Sharp remaining as CEO. Core is in the process of building up its internal roster of development execs and deals with outside producers. Not everything Core develops will be produced through Sharp but it was important to Graboff for the company to establish a basic production infrastructure to give it more flexibility in selling shows to networks.

At the same time, Core wants to leverage the brand name that Sharp has built in the cable realm.

“Our business strategy is not to homogenize any of the unique brands that we acquire,” Graboff said. “Matt has built a nice brand in the cable world and we’d be foolish to lose that identify. Our job is to help grow the companies we acquire. We’re the hub and Sharp is one of our spokes.”

Sharp Entertainment has produced more than 1,000 hours of programming since its inception in 2003. Graboff said the company was attractive to Core in part because it has a range of programming within the unscripted genre. As Core expands its production and distribution reach, the goal is to help Sharp own outright more of the programs it produces and to better exploit them through licensing, merchandising and international sales.

“Our partnership with Core Media will broaden our opportunities to exploit and distribute our products by aligning us with a company that is rapidly expanding, hungry for new business and nimble enough to get deals done, all the while allowing us to continue to focus on what we do best, which is produce great content for an array of networks and audiences,” Sharp said.

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