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AMC Networks Takes Minority Stake in Funny or Die, Plans Integrations With IFC

AMC Networks has bought a minority stake in Funny or Die with the goal of generating wide-ranging collaborations between the digital service founded by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell and AMC’s IFC cabler.

IFC and Funny or Die are already working together on the upcoming Hank Azaria starrer “Brockmire.” The investment from AMC will allow for much deeper integrations between Funny or Die’s digital platforms and IFC’s linear TV service. IFC president Jennifer Caserta will join the Funny or Die board. However, Funny or Die will remain an independent entity and continue to work with rival networks and studios.

The deal anticipates Funny or Die producing more shows for IFC and the companies partnering on ad sales, branded content, and promotional opportunities. But the larger goal is to work together on cutting-edge ideas that they nurture together. The Funny or Die and IFC teams have a cultural simpatico that drove AMC’s decision to invest.

“Doing programming and marketing and short-form content and promotion — those are the easy ways in which we can execute right away,” Caserta told Variety. “How we organically develop things in the content space in a fresh interesting way is the exciting part of this partnership.”

The investment comes amid a period of transition for Funny or Die. The company launched a decade ago by Ferrell and McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions, with backing from Sequoia Capital, put itself on the block two years ago but a deal never materialized. In March, former production chief Mike Farah was promoted to CEO. In August, the company shuttered its Silicon Valley office and laid off about 30 staffers in an effort to focus its resources on content creation.

AMC would not characterize the size of its stake. Funny or Die already has a patchwork quilt of investors who have taken small stakes over the years, including HBO, Turner, and CAA. Turner handled ad sales for Funny or Die for a few years but that relationship ended in early February 2015. Farah said he expects the partnership opportunities to be a better fit given the offbeat comedic sensibilities of both brands.

“We’ll be able to find value for both sides in working together but we won’t be obligated to force it,” Farah told Variety.

Farah emphasized that the AMC influx would allow Funny or Die to grow by keeping its focus on content creation. “This allows us to bet on talent,” he said. “We have so many shared values (with IFC) that will accelerate our work on how we evolve our own model to stay ahead of the curve.”

Ferrell, McKay, Gary Sanchez’s Chris Henchy, and Judd Apatow are the principal partners in Funny or Die.

“We met on Tinder, things moved fast, and now we’re getting married,” Ferrell and McKay said of the AMC investment.

(Pictured: “Brockmire”)

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