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Sony Pictures Television France, Satisfaction Group Form Joint Venture (EXCLUSIVE)

Arthur Essebag
Satisfaction Group

Satisfaction Group, Arthur Essebag’s thriving Paris-based production company specializing in non-scripted shows, has acquired 100% of Sony Pictures Television France, creating an exclusive joint venture called Satisfy.

Under the deal, Sony Pictures Television has acquired 20% of Satisfaction Group, and will be in charge of the international distribution of the company’s formats, some of which are among France’s highest-rated non-scripted programs. Satisfaction will benefit from Sony Pictures Television’s sales force and platform outside of France, especially in North America and the U.S.

Under the joint venture, Satisfaction Group will also gain access to Sony Pictures Television France (also called Starling)’s library of 120 non-scripted formats in France, notably “The Newlywed Game,” “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Dragon’s Den” and “Brainiest.”

“We are a major player in France, a country with huge creative and cultural success and heritage, and this joint venture represents a strategic step forward to expanding our success globally while providing significant additional opportunities in France,” said Essebag. The executive pointed out the partnership will also allow his banner to co-produce international adaptations of his most successful formats.

“We have outstanding momentum right now … the business of entertainment has become faster moving and is ever more connected as digital distribution removes borders, barriers and audiences are truly global,” added Essebag.

Essebag, a producer and entrepreneur, started out his TV production career in the early 90’s with Stephane Courbit (now chairman of Banijay) and knows the French TV market inside out. Spearheaded by CEO Judith Aboulkheir, Satisfaction Group delivers more than 1,000 hours of programs per year, with six daily shows airing on France’s main six TV channels.

“Sony Pictures Television and Satisfaction Group share an important aspiration: a desire to entertain the world with great television. Now – more than ever – the world needs great entertainment, so we are delighted to be joining up with Arthur and his fantastic team,” said Wayne Garvie, president of international production at Sony Pictures Television.

“There’s no better partner for Sony Pictures Television France as we look to recalibrate and reinvigorate our presence in France,” added Garvie, noting that the “joint venture demonstrates our shared optimism about the future of our industry, in France and throughout the world.”

The pact marks Satisfaction Group’s third acquisition in the last 12 months, following the recent acquisitions of the banners La Grosse Equipe, which specializes in factual and corporate video productions, and Enibas, which focuses on climate and nature-themed shows, among others. Satisfaction Group also boasts Satisfaction television agency, which delivers studio and live entertainment, Ah! Production, which is specialized in reality, factual shows and documentaries.

The banner’s best known shows include “Vendredi tout est permis,” “Diversion,” “Les Touristes” and “Stars à nus.” Satisfaction is currently producing “District Z,” a big-budget, zombie-themed show for TF1. The program, one of the country’s most ambitious factual program ever made, is currently shooting on the outskirts of Paris across 60 acres.

Essebag said that while non-scripted had a bright future, the challenge was to create shows that can lure younger and broader audiences. In order to come up with innovative and contemporary formats, Satisfaction has a dozen people working on researching and developing new concepts. “That’s why we came up with ‘District Z,’ because zombies are popular these days, and this show is going to be a mix of ‘Walking Dead’ and ‘Game of Thrones,'” said Essebag.

AWPG was advised on the transaction by GCA Altium, Bayle & Hasbanian, CMS Francis Lefebvre and France Consultants.