You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Content Partners Snares Half of ‘CSI’ Franchise

Deal with Goldman Sachs said to be worth about $400 million

Marking its largest deal to date, entertainment finance firm Content Partners has acquired Goldman Sachs’ 50% stake in CBS’ blockbuster franchiseCSI.”
CBS owns the other half of the three skeins — “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY” — and the Eye controls all domestic and international distribution rights. CBS has aggressive exploited the series in the subscription VOD market, and domestic syndication deals and international licensing have made all three shows hugely profitable since the first “CSI” debuted in 2000.
Content Partners was one of a handful of suitors for the asset back in December when bids came in around $400 million, according to sources close to the deal. The contenders for the asset are believed to have included investment firm Fortress, private equity firm Thomas Lee Partners and private equity firm Blackstone.
Goldman first began shopping its “CSI” stake last year (Daily Variety, Nov. 29). The investment bank has owned a 50% interest in the shows since 2007, when it inherited them through its acquisition of former “CSI” co-producer Alliance Atlantis.
The entire “CSI” library contains 724 one-hour episodes (and counting) that are on the air in more than 200 countries. Flagship “CSI” is currently in its 13th season, while “CSI: New York” is currently in its ninth. “CSI: Miami” wrapped its 10-season run last year.
CBS’ deal for “CSI: Miami” is seen as a template for the other two series. The eye inked a lucrative pact with Netflix last year that encompasses all 232 episodes of the show. All three “CSI” series have been ratings smashes in overseas markets as well.
Disney’s Touchstone TV first developed the original “CSI” through its pact with Jerry Bruckheimer, although the Mouse House famously backed out of the show in the summer of 2000, shortly before it preemed on CBS. As a profit participant and not an owner, Bruckheimer will not be affected by the “CSI” sale.
Stakes in top franchises don’t come up for sale often. That, coupled with the enormous growth in the international marketplace, has made the “CSI” sale a unique opportunity for outside investors. Since CBS retains all distribution rights, Content Partners’ interest will be purely passive.
That fits with the company’s business model of buying assets with reliable cashflows and entrenched distributors. Content Partners buys out profit participation stakes held by individuals and companies, giving them a way to cash out backend stakes otherwise designed to pay off over time. Content Partners aggregates those disparate stakes into a single investment portfolio and currently has interests in 119 films and five television series, acquired from various actors, writers, directors and other financial participants in those properties.
The “CSI” sale also represents how sophisticated investors have become at evaluating the long-term potential of top-shelf assets. Buy buying profit participation stakes at a discount, Content Partners give itself a long-term royalty generating asset.
“CBS has one of the industry’s best distribution platforms, and has made a strong commitment to aggressively distributing and leveraging the CSI franchise across all media,” said Steven H. Kram, president and CEO of Content Partners. “Content distribution channels, both traditional and digital, are rapidly expanding and as developing countries come on line, distribution of CSI will continue to grow.”
Backed by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, Content Partners was formed in 2006 by Kram, a former WMA exec veep and chief operating, and former Brillstein-Grey chief financial officer Steven Blume.
LionTree Advisors worked as advisors for Content Partners on the “CSI” deal, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan provided financing. Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory and Natsis repped Content Partners while Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld repped Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Content Partners’ co-chairman of the board Paul Wachter was also instrumental in finalizing the transaction.

More TV


    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

  • Gentleman Jack Suranne Jones

    TV Review: HBO's 'Gentleman Jack'

    “Nature played a challenging trick on me, didn’t she?” Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) first utters this sentence with an arch amusement, but over the course of Sally Wainwright’s new drama “Gentleman Jack,” she repeats the sentiment with pride, exhaustion and defiance. Living in 1832 Halifax as a lesbian with a penchant for sweeping black suits [...]

  • Inside the Music of Netflix's 'Ingress:

    Inside the Music of Netflix's 'Ingress: The Animation' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Ingress: The Animation” hit last fall in Japan, but the global release doesn’t hit Netflix until April 30, fortunately, it’s bringing a little something new to the show based on Niantic’s other popular video game. The global version of the show will feature a new musical score created by Jacob Yoffee (“Free Meek,” “Andi Mack”). [...]

  • Action Bronson Cannibis and Legalization

    Action Bronson Has Music, Marijuana and the Munchies Covered in Booming Career

    Action Bronson is a 21st century renaissance man. A hip-hop icon who recently released his fifth album, “White Bronco,” the Flushing, Queens, native, whose real name is Ariyan Arslani — with a Muslim Albanian father and Latvian Jewish mother — is probably best-known for hosting a pair of TV series for Viceland: the talk variety [...]

  • Netflix Our Planet Sophie Darlington

    Netflix's 'Our Planet' Roars to Life With Work by Top Wildlife Cinematographers

    In terms of scope, production time and — very likely — budget, Netflix’s “Our Planet” is one of the most ambitious projects from the streaming service to date. Narrated by David Attenborough and made available worldwide on April 5, the goal of the eight-part series is to capture diverse habitats across the globe and highlight [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content