Penske Media Corp. has acquired ATX TV, the entity that operates the annual television festival in Austin, Tex.
The deal calls for PMC, which is the parent company of Variety, to help expand the scope of the ATX brand with programming and activities beyond the four-day event in June that has become a key stop on the industry’s promotional calendar.
The ATX TV festival is heading into its 12th edition next year, set to run June 1-4. The company was founded by TV enthusiasts Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland, who put themselves on the map in a short time by smartly programming a mix of nostalgic reunions, lively table reads plus a mix of buzzy premieres and industry-centric panels. ATX has become a high-visibility event for TV promotional events, but it’s still managed to maintain a low-key atmosphere for creative talent that appeals to Hollywood insiders. In 2017, Gipson and McFarland described the ATX atmosphere to Variety as “TV camp for grownups.”
Gipson and McFarland will remain at the helm of ATX as co-presidents and co-founders. Laura Kincaid will stay on as director of operations while Jennifer Morgan will continue as director of programming.
“We have long admired ATX’s commitment to creating unique content that celebrates every aspect of television,” said Jay Penske, CEO and founder of PMC. “Emily and Caitlin have built an incredible community and world-class programming over the years, and we look forward to helping them expand their footprint for an even bigger audience in the future.”
ATX TV is a natural fit with PMC’s portfolio that includes the Austin-based SXSW event franchise, which is in the process of expanding to Sydney, Australia, next year. PMC also recently acquired the Life Is Beautiful festival and next month will launch LA3C, a multi-day music and culture event celebrating the creativity and communities of Los Angeles.
The ATX TV founders said the deal with PMC comes just as their event is in need of capital and bigger infrastructure to grow.
“Our vision for ATX TV is expansive,” said McFarland. “We have always had our eyes on creating year- round programming and engagement, but the pandemic marked an inflection point for us all. We realized that we needed to expand to digital content and grow beyond a yearly festival to service our business and our audience…ATX TV also needed more resources to achieve our very big goals. We are so proud of all we have done with our team, but we are ready for our next chapter of growth and are thrilled to have Penske Media as partners to help us achieve it together.”
Gipson emphasized that their vision for ATX has remained steadfast, catering to TV creatives and fans who love to talk about the craft and discuss every aspect of this collaborative medium. ATX has always sought to “create an inclusive destination for industry and consumer audiences to come together as one community to celebrate TV,” Gipson said.
“Over the past decade, we have focused on creating curated content and producing high quality experiences that have allowed audiences to discover, discuss, debate, collaborate, interact and enjoy all things television. Now with the support of Jay and Penske Media, we know the possibilities are endless of how we can grow our vision together,” she said.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
(Pictured: Cast members and producers of the Showtime drama “City On a Hill” take part in the 2019 ATX Festival. From left: Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge, Jill Hennessy, Tom Fontana, Jennifer Todd and Chuck MacLean)