The Tele München Group has bought into Load Studios, the digital content business run by former Endemol Beyond chief Georg Ramme.
TMG has been in M&A mode and the deal for Load follows agreements to take control of Munich-based producer Odeon Film and buy into Storied Media, the IP broker run by former ICM agent Todd Hoffman. Herbert Kloiber, managing director and son of TMG’s founder, and head of corporate development Bernd Wendeln are leading the charge.
For TMG, buying into the digital business marks a shift into new areas, recognizing the way the content business is evolving and reaching out to younger audiences, Kloiber said. “The market and environment have changed quite dramatically over the last year or two, and we decided we want to diversify our business away from predominantly being a trading house and towards more production, more digital content and more to the direct-to-consumer exploitation of rights,” he said.
The Load deal sees TMG take a significant minority stake in the business, which Ramme set up after stepping down as boss of Endemol Shine’s digital-content business, Endemol Beyond, in 2016. Endemol Shine re-branded the business before ultimately shutting it down.
Ramme told Variety that the TMG deal will allow Load to realize its ambitions to reach into new genres and grow internationally. “There are a lot of synergies. They have production companies and also footprint in broadcasting and distribution, and for that reason it was very interesting for us,” he said. “We can expand across the value chain, or go international or into new genres.”
Load has been working with big brands, producing Instagram fashion star project “Instastyle.tv” with StoryLab, the content arm of Japan’s Dentsu. It has also made “Das Specktakel,” an online quiz show for Burger King, and is expected to move into kids’ content soon and to move beyond its home turf.
“The German market is a good one, but the U.S. and U.K. are big markets, and it is absolutely the goal to go into these,” Ramme said. “The digital-content market has developed so you must produce international content, and content that works in different languages that can travel internationally, and which uses different business models.”
TMG works across film and TV production and international distribution, and also has a stake in TV channels Tele 5 and RTL II. The digital and direct-to-consumer push has seen it launch the Filmtastic channel on Amazon’s new channels platform in Germany, and, with Load, it will be looking to add to the pipeline of digital content.
“We have more experience in long-form scripted. We will see whether we could help develop some of the Load properties into long form,” Kloiber said. “The flip side is [that] the IP from us and all of our sister companies will in some case lend itself to short-form digital content. It goes both ways. We can also distribute what Georg is developing in Germany and internationally.”