WPP’s GroupM Makes Bid for Programming with Launch of Motion Content Group

WPP, the British advertising giant, has quietly invested in some of the most interesting content developers on the landscape, including Imagine Entertainment, The Weinstein Company and Media Rights Capital. Now the owner of ad agencies like Young & Rubicam and JWT wants to ramp up its efforts

The company’s GroupM, known for helping marketers allocate advertising dollars into media, has launched a new content investment and rights management company known as Motion Content Group. The new unit “will invest and partner with the world’s leading talent, producers and distributors to fund, develop, produce and distribute premium content.” Motion also supports WPP’s content investments, which also include MediaPro and All Def Digital, a venture of the entrepreneur Russell Simmons.

“With new content companies such as Netflix and Amazon growing rapidly, the competition for premium content is heating up across the globe,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, in a statement. ” WPP is investing in Motion Content Group to strengthen our content creation and distribution capabilities, to help meet evolving viewer needs, and to help advertisers continue to reach consumers in high quality content environments.”

Richard Foster (above, pictured), will serve as CEO of Motion Content Group, which will have headquarters in both London and Los Angeles.  Foster had been CEO of GroupM Entertainment, and the new Motion will incorporate GroupM Entertainment’s team and resources, as well as programs it has partnered to develop and produce. Some of the productions under Motion’s aegis include “The Pinkertons,” syndicated in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., the British documentary series “Mutiny,” and the Canadian series “X-Company.”

“We will help meet the market demand for premium content. I think we all recognize that viewer expectations are rising all the time, not only in quality of TV production, but in how it is consumed,” said Foster, in an interview. “That puts pressure on the economics of television – not just TV in the U.S., but around the world.”

WPP has long maintained content ambitions. In 2003, its Mindshare North America unit struck a deal with ABC that called for the two sides to create scripted dramas and comedies together. And in 2015, Sorrell told Variety that he saw an opportunity in the fact that more consumers were able to gain access to high-quality video content via mobile devices. “What’s interesting about video in a high-penetration market like Brazil or an India or an Italy — the amount of live video is becoming more and more interesting. I think it’s the connection for video that is absorbing a lot of attention. When you think about Netflix and its productions and then what Bezos might do with Amazon and what Apple might do in terms of content or what Google might do, what Facebook might do, it’s starting to look very interesting,” he said.

Foster said his company “has been active in about 20 to 25 markets around the world, investing our own money,” with the U.K. the company’s largest market. Formation of the new unit will “give us some focus and some drive,” he said. “We’ve got more coming.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: 'American Horror Story' Makes 'Suddenly Last Summer' Sizzle Again

    FX Network’s “American Horror Story” returns for a ninth season next month, and promos for the next chapter of the anticipated series, dubbed ‘AHS 1984,’ have been airing frequently across cable television throughout August. In the short yet effective spot (see below), the Motels’ melancholic, moody “Suddenly Last Summer” plays as aerial footage of an [...]

  • Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star

    Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star in Multi-Camera Comedy Series for Netflix

    Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps are headed to Netflix. The streamer has ordered a multi-camera comedy series starring the two comedians titled “The Upshaws.” The series centers on a working-class Africian American family in Indiana struggling to make it work and make it right without the blueprints to do it. Sykes will executive produce and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content