EXCLUSIVE: Endeavor is putting its money into non-scripted television. The company, which owns WME, IMG and UFC, has made a strategic investment in Asylum Entertainment Group, the unscripted production company led by Steve Michaels, with plans to “supercharge” its footprint with a major M&A drive.
Deadline understands that through its investment, Endeavor planning to invest millions into the company in order to give it the financing and resources to buy up a number of non-scripted production companies and build it into a major non-fiction group.
We’ve heard that Michaels has already been scouting out potential acquisitions and is in talks for a nine-figure deal.
It becomes the latest major Hollywood player plotting to roll up non-scripted producers in order to give it size and scale; Sony has been on a drive since it acquired Industrial Media, the company behind American Idol and 90 Day Fiancé, in a $350M deal last year and the likes of Banijay and Fremantle has been acquisitive in this space.
Asylum operates several labels including The Content Group, Texas Crew Productions, Big City TV, Breaklight Pictures and Audity and is behind series including Discovery+’s Hillsong: A Mega Church Exposed, TNT’s Shaq Life and AMC’s Eli Roth’s History of Horror as well as multiple 30 for 30s for ESPN.
It was originally formed by Michaels in 2003 and sold to Legendary Entertainment for over $150M in 2014. Michaels bought it back in 2018 and restored the original brand name in 2019.
The Content Group, Texas Crew Productions, Big City TV, Breaklight Pictures and Audity will now become part of Endeavor’s non-scripted content division, which will be led by Rebecca Sanhueza in a new role.
Sanhueza, who was EVP of Content Strategy & Development, now also becomes Head of Nonscripted Content with Asylum CEO Michaels and President Jodi Flynn reporting to her.
It marks the latest production play for Endeavor. The company, as part of an agreement with the WGA, sold a majority stake in its production and distribution business Endeavor Content to Korea’s CJ ENM last year. It still owns 20% of the company, which has been rebranded as Fifth Season.
Endeavor also owns The Wall producer Glassman Media and Pete Berg’s Film 45, which is behind Amazon doc Good Night Oppy and Netflix’s The Innocence Files.
“Endeavor is the ideal partner for our next chapter of growth in the non-scripted space,” said Michaels. “We’re excited to provide new partners with unique opportunities that amplify their vision, brands and businesses.”
“Asylum is the ideal complement to our existing portfolio, and Steve will have our full support in building out an industry-leading non-scripted business,” Endeavor President Mark Shapiro said. “Rebecca is a key architect of Endeavor’s content strategy. She played a crucial role in developing both Endeavor Content and IMG’s original content business, and brings the vision and strategy necessary to realize our global ambitions in non-scripted.
“We’ve long admired Steve and Asylum’s stellar work,” added Sanhueza. “As we look to invest further in non-scripted production, Steve’s appetite for growth, remarkable track record and market insight will benefit all our creative partners.”
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