Sony Pictures Television is diving into children’s TV in a big way by buying Silvergate Media – the producer behind global hits “Octonauts,” Netflix’s “Hilda” and the “Peter Rabbit” animated series – for $195 million, Variety has learned. The acquisition marks SPT’s first move into producing kids’ TV and follows its stablemate Sony Pictures Animation’s diversification into TV series.
SPT is buying Silvergate from the current management team and Shamrock Capital. L.A.-based investment business Shamrock acquired 51% of Silvergate in 2016. Among Silvergate’s assets is a 49% stake in a joint venture formed last year with China’s Wanda Group. That entity holds the rights to “Octonauts,” the preschool animated series about a band of intrepid underwater explorers. The show started out in the U.K. and has become a global success.
Sony has also acquired a minority stake in Silvergate BP Bidco, which owns the “Peter Rabbit” animated TV series. Silvergate co-founder Waheed Alli has the remaining stake.
Silvergate Media will continue to be managed by CEO Alli, and William Astor will remain as chairman. The duo founded the U.K.- and U.S.-based company in 2011 when they bought the “Octonauts” and “Peter Rabbit” series IP.
“We are excited to extend our capabilities and gain valuable children’s IP to bolster our entry into the kids’ space,” said Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins. “Silvergate gives us a great building block to expand into this genre in a meaningful way.”
Alli, a member of the British House of Lords and also one of the founders of the company that created “Survivor,” said: “We are all excited about joining SPT and the creative teams within the SPT family. 2020 will see a new and strong development slate coming to market with some exciting new series in the pipeline.”
Silvergate is in production on three new seasons of “Octonauts” as well as two spin-off movies, which will be on Netflix internationally, and a musical special. Work is also underway on second seasons of “Hilda,” an adaptation of the Luke Pearson graphic novels about a girl’s magical and mystical adventures, and Nick Jr. series “Sunny Day.” New projects include “Monkey With a Tool Belt,” about a monkey who uses tools to build things and solve problems, and “Creature Cases,” about a group of animal detectives, for Netflix. It also has show for Disney, details of which are under wraps.
Silvergate will be the first kids’ label in the SPT stable, which spans more than 20 production companies across 12 markets. Sony does have some kids’ TV channels in its international networks unit, including Pop and Tiny Pop in the U.K.