Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner told investors Thursday that the company’s $4 billion acquisition of Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One will only augment a long-cultivated relationship with Paramount Pictures.
Goldner has steered the toymaker and licensing giant through a strategic shift toward Hollywood that has yielded major film and streaming deals as the entertainment business craves pre-sold brands. Hasbro Studios has made movies for Universal (Ouija) but delivered multiple installments of Transformers and G.I. Joe at Paramount. In 2017, the companies re-upped their production and distribution deal through 2022.
Hasbro Studios also has taken advantage of the streaming boom, signing exclusive kids programming and merchandise deals with Netflix. Success on the entertainment front is one reason Hasbro stock has more than tripled in value during the past decade.
As for the Paramount deal? In a conference call with investors Thursday, Goldner said relations with the studio are “fantastic.” He described the all-cash acquisition of eOne as “an expansion of our opportunity with Paramount but also the opportunity to continue to develop IP that isn’t part of our priority projects there.”
As the deal with Paramount “continues to clock forward,” likely without tapping the full range of properties, Goldner said the company now will have more to offer “if Paramount were interested in an expanding array of brands.” The studio’s parent, Viacom, just announced its long-awaited reunion with CBS, amid bullish talk about amassing a content engine built for the 21st century landscape.
In addition to Peppa Pig, eOne controls PJ Masks, Ban & Holly’s and other family brands that alone as a category now bring in some $2.5 billion in annual revenue.
Given that, both Paramount and Hasbro “would like to expand our relationship to get more of Hasbro IP into theaters around the world and activate our blueprint across multiple elements,” Goldner said. “So this is really an enhancement there and an opportunity to activate brands that have been historically successful and yet are not on a priority project list today and yet have great salience and relevance with fans over time.”
Through a deal for majority control of Mark Gordon Productions — producer of grown-up TV shows like Criminal Minds — and international sales on The Walking Dead, eOne also has a robust business for adults. That is a demographic mix that Hasbro also is seeking to achieve. As of now, properties like Magic: The Gathering and Transfomers mean about 15% of Hasbro revenue comes from consumers over age 15, Goldner said.
Darren Throop, CEO of eOne, said the company has shifted investment capital away from film, opting to to be more selective and effective. He said there is a “huge library of IP we can identify, mine and hopefully produce on behalf of Hasbro and all of its partners.”