Fox Entertainment in May launched an in-house unscripted studio to provide reality series for the newly independent broadcast network, starting with Season 2 of flagship The Masked Singer. The network’s CEO Charlie Collier said at the time that the company’s overall mission to keep a lid on costs. In line with that, instead of building its own international distribution operation, which could be pricey and hard to justify early on, Fox is outsourcing international distribution to Ben Silverman and Howard Owens’ Propagate.
Under terms of the agreement, which kicks off at the ongoing MIPCOM confab, Propagate, backed by A&E Networks, will distribute Fox unscripted programming and format rights worldwide, excluding the U.S. and Canada. Included in the deal are program sales and format rights for Fox’s first homegrown unscripted series, summer entry First Responders Live, in which cameras embedded in multiple cities document a night in the lives of paramedics; and the upcoming competition series Ultimate Tag, based on the classic playground game of chase and hosted by NFL superstar sibling trio JJ, TJ and Derek Watt.
The pact also includes program sales rights forThe Masked Singer, which is produced by Fox Alternative Entertainment. That includes only the finished Fox series; The Masked Singer format rights are owned by Endemol Shine, which also produced the first season for the U.S. network.
With just a handful of titles to sell, it’s more efficient for Fox to use a distribution partner and pay commission instead of investing in a distribution network. That may change down the road as the network’s unscripted studio grows.
Fox will likely be faced with a similar decision on the scripted side when it starts producing some of its new series through subsidiaries such as SideCar or Bento Box.
“It should come as no surprise that a key part of Fox Entertainment’s growth strategy is the overseas distribution of its programming,” said Amy Carney, COO, Fox Entertainment. “Ben, Howard and their entire team have such a thorough understanding of the overseas market. It was important for us to find a partner that shared our entrepreneurial spirit, and we are excited to move forward.”
Going back to Silverman’s tenure as head of WMA’s international packaging division decades ago, he has had intimate knowledge of the international TV market. Both of his previous companies, Reveille and Electus, had strong international distribution operations that handled sales for a number of third-party companies. Electus was acquired by Propagate last year.
“Fox has long been a leader in unscripted programming and Fox Entertainment continues to bring audiences engaging, appointment TV series, featuring groundbreaking formats with strong international potential,” said Cyrus Farrokh, President, Propagate Content International. “We are extremely excited to offer our distribution partners program and format rights to these world-class shows starting at MIPCOM 2019.”