A+E Networks has taken a minority stake in management and production firm Range Media Partners. No financial details are being disclosed but the stake is believed to be in the high teens percent and the deal in the $50 million ballpark, with Range’s valuation at around $300 million. That is a hefty valuation, especially for a company that is just a year and a half old. It is close to what one of Hollywood biggest, most established management-production companies, 3 Arts, sold for in 2018 after 27 years in the business.
The investment, spearheaded by Paul Buccieri, President & Chairman, A+E Networks, and Range CEO Peter Micelli, will see A+E Studios, A+E Networks’ production arm led by Barry Jossen, become a co-production partner for scripted TV projects emerging from Range. It also gives A+E Networks, which operates the likes of A&E, History and Lifetime, a first-look deal on factual television content for its own unscripted production unit comprised by Category 6 Media and Six West Media, which produces 400+ hours of content annually.
Range Media was launched in September 2020 with principal backing from hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen, via his early-stage venture capital firm Point72 Ventures, which is still a minority investor, and additional backing from former New York Knicks coach David Fizdale, Microsoft CMO Mich Matthews-Spradlin and Grubhub founder/CEO Matt Maloney.
According to sources, Range still has a sizable war chest left from the initial investment and was not proactively looking to sell. The company’s model is built on creating multiple joint ventures with various studios and platforms for various projects. Range had formed a JV with A+E Studios, which has yielded at least one series in development, drama White House Doctor based on Dr. Connie Mariano’s memoir, in development at Fox with Alyssa Milano producing.
It is through that relationship that A+E Studios’ parent company pursued a stake in Range, which is believed to have broken even in October, 17 months ahead of schedule, and has started to turn profit in some of the months since.
Range has been restrained, starting its foray into series on the reasonably priced unscripted side, with four currently in production, and using partner studios for expensive scripted series to avoid the risk of taking on a lot of deficit financing for scripted series right off the bat that doomed AMG/ATG years ago.
In addition to commissions from representing talent, Range’s income comes from branding and advising brands, including via its deal with the New York Mets. The company has been very active in music and gaming as well as emerging areas such as blockchain, Web3 and the metaverse, which factored into A+E’s interest.
Micelli, former eOne chief strategy officer and ex-CAA co-head of television, leads Range with fellow managing partners Dave Bugliari, Mackenzie Condon Roussos, Rich Cook, Michael Cooper, Susie Fox, Matt Graham, Sandra Kang, Rachel Kropa, Natalie Bruss, Chelsea McKinnies, Peter Micelli, Mick Sullivan, Byron Wetzel and Jack Whigham. About half of the company’s staff are people of color, half are under 35 and more than half are women.
Range represents such actors as Bradley Cooper, Emilia Clarke, Benicio Del Toro, Gabrielle Union, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Vince Vaughn, Naomi Ackie, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Jerrod Carmichael, Stephan James, Anna Kendrick, Shailene Woodley, Danny McBride/Rough House Pictures, Michael Shannon, Ramy Youssef, Taron Egerton, Kiersey Clemons, and Keira Knightley, writers and filmmakers including Amy Aniobi, Michael Bay, M. Night Shyamalan, Luca Guadagnino, Martin McDonagh, Damon Lindelof, Gareth Edwards, Tim Van Patten and Alma Har’el, and musical artists Jack Harlow, Justin Tranter and Midland.
Buccieri noted that A+E was drawn to Range’s team and talent. “We believe this investment will create strategic opportunities to accelerate the growth of our scripted and nonfiction content creation unit on a global scale,” he said. “Our investment underscores both our confidence in the trajectory of the industry and more specifically, the role Range will play within it. This alignment will enable diversification of our storytelling and content, amplify our efforts to shift from curator to creator, and bolster our ultimate goal to become a global IP powerhouse.”
A+E Networks previously backed financially Howard Owens’ Propagate, with Ben Silverman subsequently joining the company as partner. The duo later acquired Silverman’s previous company, Electus, and with that, a majority stake in management/production company Artists First, giving A+E Networks access to a sizable talent pool, which is now being augmented by the addition of Range’s talent roster.
Under Buccieri, A+E Networks has strengthened its balance sheet and increased profitability to the tune of contributing some $1.9 billion to the coffers of its co-owners, Disney and Hearst. That has allowed the company to be aggressive in its investment strategy. In addition to scripted, unscripted, and independent film, A+E Networks’ business includes array of curated SVODs, FAST channels and podcasts, branded experiential live events and eCommerce.
Range plans to use the cash infusion to expand its talent representation capabilities, for incubation of talent-affiliated consumer businesses and step up its significant investment in the Web3 ecosystem.
“We are humbled to partner with remarkable artists, who are driven by the need to know more and do more,” Micelli said. “We are privileged to be joined by the like-minded team at A+E Networks, some of whom we have worked with for decades, who share our passion for innovation, business strategy and compelling storytelling, as we enter this next chapter.”
Range’s partnership with A+E Studios comes amid stepped-up third-party production efforts for the Jossen-led outfit. Through A+E Studios’ fruitful collaboration with David E. Kelley, the studio has three on-air English-language series, Big Sky and the upcoming Avalon at ABC and the upcoming The Lincoln Lawyer at Netflix. A+E Studios’ first local-language production, supernatural thriller The Malevolent Bride, airing in 2022 exclusively on KAN 11, Israel’s Public Broadcaster.
“We have a large roster of projects ready for the marketplace, all of which perfectly fit the Range Media Partners/A+E Studios strategic alliance of bringing together high-end artists to create and produce in a talent-friendly environment to bring their visions to the screen,” said Jossen, president, and head of A+E Studios.
The Raine Group and Joe Gangitano and Adrian Perry of Covington & Burlington advised A+E Networks on the transaction. Range Media Partners was advised by Robert Benson & Rahul Patel of King & Spalding LLP and the late Jerry Longarzo and Jeff Freid of Longarzo Vance Klevan Freid LLP.
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