Courtesy of ABC/Eric McCandless
Sony Pictures Television sealed a deal to acquire Industrial Media, a major nonfiction TV production company whose portfolio includes “90 Day Fiancé,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol.”
The deal values Industrial Media at $350 million. Upon closing, Sony Pictures will acquire a majority controlling interest in Industrial Media but the studio declined to reveal its ownership percentage.
Industrial Media’s production shingles include 19 Entertainment, B17 Entertainment, House of NonFiction, Sharp Entertainment, the Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC), This Machine Filmworks, This Radicle Act and Trilogy Films.
The companies produce more than 100 programs distributed worldwide in genres including documentary, music competition and reality categories. Those include the hit “90 Day Fiancé” franchise for TLC, “Indian Matchmaking” for Netflix, “We’re Here” for HBO, “The Curse of Von Dutch” and “The D’Amelio Show” for Hulu, “Secrets of Playboy” for A&E, “Selena+Chef” and “Craftopia” for HBO Max, “So You Think You Can Dance” for Fox, and “American Idol” for ABC (co-produced with 19 Entertainment).
All together, the Industrial Media group has about 100 employees in L.A., New York and Atlanta. SPT’s deal to buy the company is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
Eli Holzman, Industrial Media CEO and founder/CEO of IPC, will join Sony Pictures Television as president of nonfiction entertainment upon closing, reporting to Ravi Ahuja, chairman of global television studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment corporate development. Aaron Saidman, Holzman’s longtime producing partner who is Industrial Media president and IPC co-founder and president, will join the company as co-president, nonfiction entertainment, reporting to Holzman. Together, Holzman and Saidman will oversee day-to-day operations of Sony Pictures Television Nonfiction.
“At SPT, our focus is on leadership and quality in growing areas of television, and nonfiction content makes up a significant share of TV viewing,” Ahuja said in a statement. “Acquiring Industrial Media gives us scale and expertise that nicely complements our current TV production businesses. Eli, Aaron and their talented group of producers have consistently succeeded with high-quality series and documentaries.”
In addition to the deal for Industrial Media, Sony Pictures TV announced that Suzanne Prete, who currently oversees “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” will add oversight of other game shows produced by SPT in her new role as EVP of a newly formed game show production division. Prete, who joined SPT in 1995, reports to Ahuja.
Industrial Media was formed as a result of Crestview Partners and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock acquiring CORE Media Group in 2016, with UTA subsequently taking a stake in the company and advising on its turnaround. The new owners recruited media executive Dennis Miller to serve as chairman. In 2018, CORE acquired IPC and Holzman and Saidman were appointed CEO and president, respectively, and the company was renamed Industrial Media.
In a joint statement, Crestview Partners co-president Brian Cassidy, BlackRock director Jeff Gordon and UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said: “We set out to grow Industrial Media into a preeminent television production entity and we are thrilled that Sony Pictures Television saw the value in the tremendous brand we have built. We are extremely proud of Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Matt Sharp, and Dennis Miller. Their creative energy and astute business acumen have turned Industrial Media into a major content supplier. Sony is the perfect home for Industrial Media and we look forward to seeing it continue to flourish as Sony Pictures Television Nonfiction.”
Since Holzman and Saidman took the helm at Industrial Media three years ago, the company has nearly doubled in size and the multi-Emmy winning founders remain among the most prolific producers in the nonfiction segment.
Industrial Media’s team of creatives includes Matt Sharp, CEO and Founder of Sharp Entertainment (TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé” franchise, Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food”); RJ Cutler, president, This Machine Filmworks (“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” on Apple TV Plus); Brien Meagher and Rhett Bachner, founders of B17 Entertainment (“Chasing the Cure,” “Craftopia,” “Thanks a Million”); filmmaker Dawn Porter, founder of Trilogy Films (director and executive producer of the mental health docu-series “The Me You Can’t See” alongside Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry); filmmaker Alex Stapleton, founder of House of NonFiction (docu-series “Pride” for FX); and actor, director and producer Don Cheadle, whose production company This Radicle Act focuses on creating TV and film content for all platforms.
Holly Jacobs, SPT’s EVP alternative and syndicated programming, will oversee the integration of the Industrial Media team and help “ensure a smooth transition of SPT’s existing unscripted series” before she transitions to a full-time independent producer under an overall deal with the studio. Under the deal, Jacobs will develop and executive produce original programming for the studio and continue to support SPT shows currently in production. Since establishing the studio’s alternative programming division 15 years ago, Jacobs and her team have produced long-running shows including “Shark Tank” and “The Dr. Oz Show,” along with “The $100,000 Pyramid,” original series “Murder House Flip” and “Men in Kilts,” and primetime specials “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time,” “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy! National College Championship.”
In a joint statement, Holzman and Saidman said: “This is the most exciting time in the nonfiction business with more opportunity and more content being made than at any other period in the history of the genre. At Industrial, we have assembled some of our industry’s most sought-after storytellers. And now we have partnered with a leading independent supplier to the global film and television marketplace. Our ambition in working with Tony, Ravi and the Sony Pictures Television team is to supercharge our growth, amplify our ability to attract the very best talent both in front of and behind the camera, and to continue pushing the boundaries of the medium.”
Moelis & Co. served as a financial adviser to Industrial Media in connection with the transaction.
Variety's Todd Spangler contributed to this post.