John de Mol Buys Into Dutch Digital Studio DFFRNT Media

John de Mol has taken a minority stake in DFFRNT Media, the Amsterdam-based content company created by former 2waytraffic founder Taco Ketelaar, TV host and former Talpa executive Winston Gerschtanowitz, and Dutch media exec Bas Verhart.

The DFFRNT team members are all well-known in the Netherlands and beyond – Ketelaar was a programming boss at Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 – and are now aligned with “Big Brother” and “The Voice” creator de Mol, who is investing through his Talpa Network operation.

Talpa Network comprises local nets SBS6, Net5, Veronica, and SBS9, as well as various radio and digital operations, and sits outside the Talpa production and distribution business that British broadcaster ITV bought for up to $1 billion in 2015. Local media watchers said that the moves to bulk up Talpa Network smack of de Mol preparing for life after his ITV earn-out.

The “Big Brother” inventor was one of two minority investors in DFFRNT. Marketing and e-commerce business TCC Global has also bought in. Both took unspecified minority stakes.

The company is a formats creator and also works across advertising, digital, and AR and VR content. The Netherlands has a long pedigree as a source of international content and DFFRNT’s stated aim is to “use the Netherlands as the ultimate pilot market to test new digital products and to create new global IP.”

The alliance with de Mol likely means access to his local TV channels, which Talpa often uses as a launchpad for shows ahead of an international roll-out.

Ketelaar and his cohorts formed DFFRNT in 2016. Former Endemol and Sony executive Jeroen Tielens joined the management team soon after.

The management issued a joint statement: “We are moving towards a platform economy in which success is defined by the ability to engage people in a relevant and meaningful way. We are proud to bring two such international powerhouses on board within 12 months after the start of our company. Such investments will give us the ability to play on a global level.“

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