Red Arrow Entertainment Group, the production-distribution unit of Germany's ProSiebenSat.1 Group, has acquired a majority stake in Half Yard Prods., the outfit behind such cable reality series as "Say Yes to the Dress," "Diggers" and "Hillbilly Handfishin'."
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but industry sources pegged the pricetag at more than $40 million. Red Arrow's deal for Half Yard is the latest example of the European and U.S. media congloms scooping up small and medium-sized unscripted production entities in an effort to bolster content creation and the potential to sell hit formats around the world.
Abby Greensfelder and Sean Gallagher will continue to run the Bethesda, Md.-based company as co-CEOs. The pair, former programming execs at Discovery Channel and TLC, respectively, founded Half Yard in 2006. At Red Arrow, Half Yard becomes part of a portfolio that includes Chris Coelen's Kinetic Content, Fabrik Entertainment and Left/Right Prods.
Jan Frouman, group managing director at Red Arrow, founded the unit in 2010 with the goal of acquiring production assets in the U.S. and other key territories. Half Yard was attractive to them because of Greensfelder and Gallagher's strong trackr record of development shows and their deep relationships in the unscripted arena. ProSieben's deep pockets will afford them resources they would not have as an indie.
"We expect them to continue to operate Half Yard as they have been under the added advantageous umbrella of the group," Frouman said.
"Our strategy on acquisitions has pretty much been unchanged since we started group. We want to be in territories around the world that people pay attention to, and we want to partner with people who want to do a deal with us for the right reasons."
The Half Yard pair said they felt the "fit" was right with Frouman after being courted by other suitors over the past year.
"The minute we met Jan we know this was the guy we wanted to be in business with," Gallagher said.
"It's important when you've founded your own company and grown it that you find someone who gets your (company culture," Greensfelder added.
Greensfelder's track record during her Discovery exec days included greenlighting signature hits "Deadliest Catch," "Dirty Jobs," "American Chopper" and "Mythbusters." Gallagher was the exec behind "Miami Ink" and "Little People, Big World" during his time at TLC, and before that he worked for Discovery.
Because of their Discovery roots, Greensfelder noted that they understand the value of international reach, and what Red Arrow's distribution infrastructure can mean for Half Yard.
"Up to this point we have not leveraged the value of the international business," she said. "One of the attractions of having a global partner is the ability to launch formats internationally and share ideas."
U.S. cable channels, however, are notoriously stingy when it comes to rights. Most shows are produced on a for-hire basis with the production entity retaining little if any stake in the show or control over its destiny. But that is changing as smaller companies gain more clout through association with larger entities.
Frouman cited Kinetic's experience with ABC on the gameshow "The Taste." After much back and forth with the network, Kinetic controls the rights to the format in international markets.
"We stepped up and did everything needed to do to make sure we owned it," Frouman said.
Investment bank About Corporate Finance handled the sale for Half Yard.