Entertainment One chief Darren Throop has stated that his company looking to be a “consolidator” rather than be consolidated.
Throop, speaking at the Royal Television Society London conference, said that “scale matters” when it comes to the next stage of growth in the entertainment business.
“Having that backdrop of support is very important.” But he added, “We have been fortunate enough to be a size and scale that we have a balance sheet that [allows us] to take the risks that we have to take as a company going forward. We’d rather be a consolidator than be consolidated.”
This comes eight months after the Peppa Pig owner and The Walking Dead distributor bought the remaining stake in Designated Survivor producer The Mark Gordon Company. In January, it paid $209M for the 49% of the company that it did not own, having paid $133M for a 51% in 2015.
In April, eOne bought a 70% stake in British production company Whizz Kid Entertainment for £6.9M (US$9.1M). The company produces series including MTV’s Ex on the Beach.
In July, it also bought the remaining stake in international sales and production operation Sierra/Affinity and Sierra Pictures after originally purchasing a minority stake in 2015.
It was only two years ago that eOne was itself the subject of a bid from ITV. The British commercial broadcaster had attempted to buy the company for around £1B (US$1.3B) but was rebuffed and abandoned its plans in August 2016.
Throop was sitting on a panel alongside senior British television execs including All3Media CEO Jane Turton, former Channel 4 CEO David Abraham, who now runs studio Wonderhood Studios and Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge.
The session, titled A Full Set of FAANGs, soon turned to whether these businesses – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google – would begin to acquire traditional television production companies.
Turton said, “Will they go out and buy Endemol Shine or producing companies? I don’t think they need to but you never know. If it secures them exclusivity over content, they may just take that step and they can economically.”
In fact, Alex Green, Managing Director, Sport and Channels, Europe at Amazon Prime Video added, “Size can help in producing globally appealing shows and in facilitating the investment in technology but really size isn’t an end in itself.”
Former BBC content chief Danny Cohen, who now run Access Entertainment said that he believes that international consolidation has still “got some way to go”. “These big international players, including the tech companies, are going to keep trying to build scale.”
But Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chairman at ITV, which is interested in acquiring Black Mirror and Big Brother producer Endemol Shine, tried to claim that agility is more important than scale. “I was taught at school that Sir Francis Drake defeated the Armada with small ships that were agile so size isn’t always what counts,” he said.