TPG Growth, whose parent TPG owns a majority stake in CAA, and John Malone’s Liberty Global have teamed to launch a global television production and distribution studio dubbed Platform One Media. The studio will be majority owned by Evolution Media, TPG Growth’s investment partnership with CAA and Participant Media, with Liberty Global taking a minority equity stake via Liberty Global Group in its first major foray into TV production and distribution.
Platform One, which has tapped former Gaumont Television CEO Katie O’Connell Marsh as CEO, will absorb TPG Growth’s Slingshot Global Media, including its portfolio and development projects. Courtney Conte, who was appointed as new President of Slingshot Global Media in January, will be Chief Operating Officer and President of Platform One. Also coming over from Slingshot is head of Business Affairs Neil Strum. Launched in 2014, Slingshot put a slew of high-profile series in development though none has gone into production.
O’Connell Marsh in 2015 was tapped by DreamWorks Animation to run a new live-action TV unit, though the company’s plans in the area changed when it was subsequently acquired by NBCUniversal. O’Connell Marsh is bringing with her to Platform One Elisa Ellis, who served as the Head of Creative at DreamWorks’ live-action division and also worked for O’Connell Marsh at Gaumont, as well as another Gaumont alum, Erik Pack. Additionally, producer Julia Franz, former head of creative at ABC Studios, has joined the company as a consultant.
“TPG Growth has a history of identifying and building companies, such as STX Entertainment, that can redefine their categories,” said Bill McGlashan, founder and managing partner of TPG Growth and co-founder and CEO of The Rise Fund. “Working with our partners at Evolution Media, we look forward to leveraging our collective experiences and networks in the entertainment space to build this business with Katie and her team.”
Added Bruce Mann, Chief Programming Officer at Liberty Global, “Platform One Media has the key ingredients Liberty Global values in a strategic asset: great leadership, a clear vision and aligned, well capitalized partners. It also gives us the opportunity to work with world-class talent creating high-quality scripted programming which could potentially feature on Liberty Global’s pay-TV platforms in Europe.”
The indie TV production companies landscape has been very challenging in the last few years as U.S. TV networks have upped their push for ownership, with Gaumont under O’Connell Marsh as one of few success stories.
O’Connell Marsh spent five years as CEO at Gaumont Television, where she launched and built up the indie studio operation with such series as NBC’s Hannibal, Netflix’s Narcos, Hemlock Grove and F Is For Family. Before that, she served as head of drama for NBC and was a development executive at Imagine TV.
“The explosion of original content globally is creating an opportunity for new, innovative, and diverse ways to engage audiences beyond the series itself,” said O’Connell Marsh. “With Platform One Media, and our partners TPG Growth and Liberty Global, we are perfectly positioned to develop and distribute compelling narratives that are artistic, meaningful and addictive by working closely with innovative, inspiring talent to bring to life their creative visions.”
Here is more info on the other appointments to the Platform One Media executive team:
- Courtney Conte, who most recently served as President of Slingshot Global Media, will be Chief Operating Officer (COO) and President. Conte previously served as COO of BBC Worldwide Productions and Co-President of Carsey-Werner.
- Elisa Ellis, who most recently served as the Head of Creative for the Live Action Television division of Dreamworks Animation, will be joining as Chief Creative Officer. Before joining Dreamworks in 2016, Ellis was President of Creative Affairs & Production for Gaumont Television. At Gaumont, she was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company’s series development and production including Hannibal and Narcos.
- Erik Pack will join Platform One Media as Head of Distribution & Co-Production based in London. Pack most recently served as President of International Distribution & Co-production at Gaumont Television. Prior to that, Pack was EVP of International Sales and Co-Productions at Power, a London-based production and distribution company. Previously, Pack was at Hallmark Entertainment for 12 years, where he structured output deals across Europe and Latin America.
- Neil Strum, who most recently served asHead of Business and Legal Affairs for Slingshot Global Media, will take on the same position at Platform One Media. Prior to Slingshot, he served as EVP at Metan Development Group, one of the only Western companies producing original TV content in China. Strum also served as SVP of the William Morris Agency where he forged new business models utilizing non-traditional financing for network production.
- Also working with the team is Julia Franz, former Head of Creative at ABC Studios, who will serve as a consultant for the new company.