Comscore Acquires Social Media Analytics Firm Shareablee

Comscore has acquired Shareablee, a marketing analytics and measurement company in the social media space.

With the acquisition, which closed on Dec. 16, Comscore plans to expand its Media Metrix and Video Metrix currencies to include Shareablee’s social media engagement and video insights, which will bridge the industry gap of traditional digital and social measurement services, according to Comscore.

The combined audience insights of Comscore and Shareablee will give media companies, brands and advertisers an unmatched understanding of cross-platform consumer engagement and reach, according to Comscore. Integration plans call for Comscore digital products to benefit from Shareablee data, allowing clients to broaden their digital footprint in products such as Video Metrix with advanced social video insights, and for Shareablee clients to have additional advantages with curated views of Comscore digital data embedded in their Shareablee dashboards, Comscore announced.

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Comscore plans to retain the Shareablee team after closing, with key members of Shareablee management, including Tania Yuki, Greg Dale and Jonathan Lieberman, continuing in leadership roles.

Shareablee, a Meta for Media Measurement Partner, provides analytics and intelligence to many of the world’s largest brands, publishers and agencies including Mondelez, GroupM, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Vox Media. Shareablee has built a proprietary taxonomy of more than 20 million publishers, advertisers and content creators in more than 70 global markets that publish millions of videos, images and articles each day across the major social media platforms, delivering a vast array of performance-based insight that is a natural complement to Comscore’s currency TV, CTV, OTT, movie and digital measurement solutions, according to Comscore.

Comscore and Shareablee have joint clients that will benefit from a true cross-platform view of their marketing reach and effectiveness, according to the research firm.

“Comscore is committed to the future and helping customers have a comprehensive view of the consumer across platforms, while understanding the unique engagement on premium video. The future of measurement would not be complete without including the impressions delivered by the social media platforms,” Bill Livek, CEO and executive vice chair of Comscore, said in a statement. “For marketers, this inclusion into our currencies will present great opportunity to maximize their outcomes on advertising investments. We see many opportunities to help our clients grow their viewing audiences and maximize their impact using social platforms.”

“At our core, we believe that content matters, and that data and insights can make storytelling more impactful. We are thrilled to join forces with Comscore and look forward to finding new ways to jointly drive innovation,” Tania Yuki, CEO and founder of Shareablee, said in a statement. “Our large-scale social measurement capabilities provide critical insight into changing content consumption and consumer behaviors, particularly when it comes to shedding light on Gen Z, and fit perfectly alongside Comscore’s comprehensive cross-platform intelligence. Bringing the resources and measurement sophistication of Comscore to our product development capabilities will be very exciting for the whole market.”

Anthem Acquires Gravitas Ventures

Anthem Sports and Entertainment, a multi-platform media company, has acquired content distributor Gravitas Ventures from Red Arrow Studios.

Anthem purchased the distributor for $73 million in cash and an additional common stock consideration component, according to the companies.

Gravitas founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher, president Michael Murphy, EVP and general counsel Brendan Gallagher, and CFO Brian Kenyon join the Anthem executive team. Additionally, the entire Gravitas Ventures organization will remain intact.

Gravitas Ventures joins Anthem’s roster of properties that includes AXS TV, HDNET Movies, IMPACT Wrestling, Invicta Fighting Championships, Fight Network, Game+ and GameTV. The purchase gives Anthem more than 8,000 hours of sports and entertainment content in its library to complement its seven consumer-facing streaming channel brands, according to a press release.

Cleveland-based Gravitas Ventures has been part of Red Arrow Studios since November 2017, and typically releases more than 300 films and documentaries per year. The most recent high-profile films in the portfolio include the 2020 feature The Secret: Dare to Dream, starring Katie Holmes, and the 2021 film Queen Bees, starring Ellen Burstyn and James Caan.

The deal gives Anthem’s properties access to Gravitas Ventures titles and opens up new areas of growth and revenue for Anthem’s existing content library, “allowing Anthem to utilize Gravitas’ rich partnerships with top digital platforms,”according to the release. Upon completion of the transaction, Anthem will add more than 200 customers to its ranks, while unlocking additional promotion opportunities for its various business units and enabling Gravitas to invest further in content opportunities, new themed channels and to enter the television distribution market.

The deal will allow Gravitas “to harness the full power of the library  leveraging Anthem’s expertise in launching highly-successful global FAST digital channels to create all-new themed channels specifically based around their unique content offerings,” according to the press release.

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“This is a significant step forward for Anthem in its mission to build a next-generation media company that is primed for the digital future, keeping Anthem ahead of the curve with the current trajectory of the fast-paced streaming-first entertainment ecosystem,” Leonard Asper, founder and CEO of Anthem, said in a statement. “Gravitas is a world leader in film and documentary distribution and provides Anthem with a major presence across the top digital platforms. We are happy to welcome Nolan, Michael, Brendan, Brian and the Gravitas team on board, and to broaden our shareholder base to include Gravitas Ventures’ management and Red Arrow Studios. We are excited to build upon the incredible success that they have already achieved.”

“Anthem perfectly complements Gravitas Ventures’ mindset and mission, presenting several major platforms where our films can thrive while opening up dynamic new areas and opportunities that will be vital in helping our company grow,” Nolan Gallagher, founder of Gravitas, said in a statement. “They have had tremendous success with all of their acquired properties, taking a hands-on approach that shows a great understanding for their unique products and what it takes to keep them on top in this highly competitive industry. We feel confident being a part of a talented Anthem team that is more than equipped to lead the charge for our filmmakers on this journey, and we could not be more excited to begin this new era in the legacy of Gravitas Ventures.”

FilmRise Acquires N.A. Rights to ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired exclusive theatrical, digital and broadcast distribution rights to Marvelous and the Black Hole for the United States and Canada.

The feature, about an unlikely bond between a young girl and an eccentric magician, stars four-time Emmy Award-winner Rhea Perlman (“Cheers,” “Matilda,” “The Mindy Project”) and Miya Cech (Always Be My Maybe, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”). In the film written and directed by Kate Tsang, a teenage delinquent (Cech) befriends a surly magician (Perlman) who helps her navigate her inner demons and dysfunctional family with sleight of hand magic. 

Refinery 29 named Miya Cech an “Unforgettable Breakout Star” of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

“The combination of releasing Kate Tsang’s directorial debut film featuring the terrific performance of 2021 Sundance Film Festival breakout star Miya Cech opposite the masterful comic timing of Rhea Perlman in a unique coming of age comedy, was irresistible,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “This film is a stellar addition to our growing library of films by underrepresented filmmakers telling untold stories.”

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The film had its worldwide premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, its New York premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and received the Grand Jury Award from the 2021 IFF Boston Film Festival. The film also screened at the 2021 Mill Valley Film Festival; the 2021 Atlanta Film Festival; the 2021 Sun Valley Film Festival, where the film won the One in a Million Narrative award; the 2021 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Emerging Filmmaker Award; and the 2021 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Audience Award.

The film is the third recipient of AT&T and the Tribeca Film Institute’s Untold Stories grant, an initiative that selects one project per year by an underrepresented filmmaker with an “untold story.”

ViacomCBS to Acquire Stake in Spanish-Language Content Producer

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in the Spanish-language content producer Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico from The Walt Disney Co. and the founding family of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico.

ViacomCBS International Studios’ VIS, a division of VCNI, will operate Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico as a collaborative partnership with the founding family. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Through this transaction, VCNI will gain access to Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico’s studio operations in both Colombia and Mexico, as well as many hours of library content, including premium series, telenovelas, films, documentaries, unscripted, kids and family, branded and digital content, and live sports shows produced for various audiences. This content will fuel ViacomCBS’s global streaming platforms including Paramount+ and Pluto TV, and its linear networks around the world, according to the company. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will also bolster ViacomCBS’ Spanish-language content production capabilities to capitalize on significant content demand in the region and worldwide, the company noted.

“The acquisition of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, combined with ViacomCBS’s existing Spanish-language portfolio including Telefe and Chilevisión, reinforces the company’s position as a leading worldwide producer of Spanish-language content,” Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO, ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement. “This content will fuel ViacomCBS’ global ecosystem across Paramount+, Pluto TV and its linear networks.”

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“This announcement is very fulfilling and I feel very honored that Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will continue its expansion and growth in the hands of such an amazing company as ViacomCBS and its talented and visionary executives,” Samuel Duque Rozo, founder and CEO of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, said in a statement. “The extraordinary work that our team has made during all these years, combined with ViacomCBS’s vision, iconic brands, experience, professionalism, creativity among much more, will bring nothing less but the best for both businesses.”

Rozo will continue to exclusively support the business from a creative and strategic advisory position, and Samuel Duque Duque, current president, will lead the business. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will fall under the remit of Juan “JC” Acosta, President of ViacomCBS International Studios and Networks Americas.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Genius Brands Acquiring WOW! Unlimited Media

Genius Brands International is acquiring WOW! Unlimited Media for approximately $53 million in cash and stock, according to the companies.

WOW! Unlimited Media, based in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles, is an animation production company producing for the top broadcasters and IP holders including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony, Hulu, Dreamworks, Moonbug, Peacock and Mattel. The acquisition includes two studios — Frederator Studios (which produced “Adventure Time,” “FairlyOdd Parents,” “Powerpuff Girls,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Castlevania”) and Mainframe Studios (“Madagascar: A Little Wild,” “Barbie Dreamhouse”).

WOW! CEO Michael Hirsh will join the board of directors of Genius Brands and continue his responsibilities for Mainframe, Frederator Studios, networks and platforms.

Andy Heyward

“The acquisition of WOW! substantially accelerates the financial growth of Genius Brands, delivering on our promise to shareholders to execute meaningful and accretive acquisitions, as we seek to rapidly consolidate the marketplace and become the foremost producer, broadcaster, and consumer product licensor of high-quality children’s entertainment in the world,” Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands, said in a statement. “I have known and worked with WOW! Chairman and CEO Michael Hirsh throughout my career, and there is nobody more talented, accomplished or well regarded. His track record of many hits includes the first ‘Star Wars’ animated programs, ‘Magic School Bus,’ ‘Care Bears, Babar,’ ‘Johnny Test,’ and ‘Beetlejuice,’ among others.

“In addition to the animation productions of WOW! today and the exciting new brand brought to the table for Genius Brands, WOW! has a massive social media footprint across YouTube, TikTok, Giphy, etc., expanding the Genius Brands kids’ audience demo into the lucrative teens and young adult marketplaces. The company has over 1 billion views per month on its Frederator YouTube Network, with over 2,500 advertiser supported channels, making it the number one talent driven animation YouTube Network.”

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WOW!’s Canadian production facilities enable a number of profitable synergies for the company via access to various federal and provincial tax credits, which will allow Genius Brands to transfer its current animation production at great savings from China, according to Genius Brands.

“In addition to WOW!’s 3rd party service production, we will now place many of the exciting upcoming WOW! owned content on Kartoon Channel! and activate it through our consumer products and global distribution sales network, further advancing revenues and earnings,” Heyward said in a statement.

“I’m excited to work with Andy and the Genius Brands team,” Hirsh said in a statement. “This is a powerful partnership that brings immediate and significant value for shareholders. We bring production capacity, new IP, and a robust and profitable YouTube Network with over a billion views per month. Genius Brands, with Kartoon Channel!, has a fully distributed footprint where our content can thrive and also help Kartoon Channel! itself expand. Genius Brands’ world class consumer product licensing team led by Kerry Phelan, will enable us to monetize all of these great characters and brands. This transaction represents the culmination of our extensive strategic review process. We feel that this is a very attractive opportunity for our shareholders with significant potential upside in the months and years ahead.”

The transfer of animation production to Canada is expected to benefit Genius Brands through Canadian Content incentives as well as Production Service Tax Credits, according to a press release.

Redbox Completes Combo With Seaport Global to Go Public

Redbox has completed its previously announced business combination with Seaport Global Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. As a result of the merger, the entity will be known as “Redbox Entertainment Inc.”

Redbox’s common stock and warrants are expected to begin trading on Nasdaq Oct. 25 under the ticker symbols “RDBX and “RDBXW,” respectively.

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“Today marks the beginning of Redbox’s next chapter,” Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, said in a statement. “Since revolutionizing the way Americans rent movies nearly two decades ago, Redbox has continuously evolved and expanded our reach — all while offering our millions of loyal customers exceptional value in home entertainment. Today, we are building on our legacy and reaffirming our commitment to delivering a wide range of choice and convenience for consumers, as well as value for our Redbox stakeholders.

“As a public company, we plan to continue our strong momentum and accelerate our digital transformation. Through this transaction, and the incremental capital it provides, Redbox is equipped to advance our goal of creating a one stop experience that spans multiple entertainment mediums and simplifies the streaming experience. We are eager to capture the significant and growing opportunities ahead, take our business to the next level and achieve profitable growth for Redbox shareholders.”

NPD Group to Be Acquired by Private Equity Firm

Research provider The NPD Group announced that private equity firm Hellman & Friedman has made a binding offer and entered into an exclusive agreement to acquire the company.

Under the deal, NPD executive chairman Tod Johnson and CEO Karyn Schoenbart will retain a minority stake in the business and continue to serve on the NPD board of directors.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2021, subject to the entry into the definitive sale agreement and satisfaction of its conditions.

“As a leading source of market information and advisory services for general merchandise and foodservice, NPD is committed to helping our clients and the industries we serve achieve data-driven growth for many years to come,” Johnson said in a statement. “H&F shares our focus on long-term growth and has the resources and expertise to not only continue but also accelerate NPD’s momentum and long track record of success. Both Karyn and I are delighted to have the opportunity to partner as minority investors alongside H&F as we work in close collaboration on a long-term strategic plan and transition over time to the next generation of NPD leadership.”    

“In a period of rapid change, NPD has helped guide our clients with omnichannel data, industry expertise, and analytics to help them understand unprecedented market shifts,” Schoenbart said in a statement. “It has been exciting to play an increasingly important role in the strategies of our clients by providing insight into what is happening today and what to anticipate in the future. We expect H&F to continue our tradition of client partnership and innovation with new products, data sources, and next generation platforms to make our information even more comprehensive, accessible, and actionable.”

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“Trusted by more than 2,000 customers in 19 countries, NPD is a market leader in its categories with an outstanding value proposition for customers and retailers. Tod and Karyn have led the company to great heights, and we look forward to working closely with them to build on this strong momentum,” Philip Hammarskjold, executive chairman of H&F, said in a statement.

“Rapidly evolving consumer expectations and the growth of e-commerce are accelerating the pace of change in the retail landscape. In an environment of unknowns, the ability for companies to use omnichannel analytics to measure and improve performance is more important than ever before, and NPD is extremely well positioned to provide these critical insights to its customers and retail partners,” Blake Kleinman, partner at H&F, said in a statement.

Founded in 1966, NPD is the eighth-largest market research company worldwide, with operations in the Americas, Europe and APAC, covering more than 20 industries.

Content Marketplace Vuulr Partners With Kanal D

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers and distributors worldwide, has partnered with Kanal D International (KDI), the global business arm of Kanal D, the leading TV channel of Turkey broadcasting under Europe’s Demirören Media Group.

Under the partnership, Kanal D International will list 24 titles on the Vuulr platform totaling approximately 2,160 hours of content, mostly in the romantic comedy and premium drama genres. Among the titles that Kanal D International is listing on Vuulr are dramas Twist of Fate and Recipe of Love, along with “Hekimoglu,” which is the Turkish version of the hit U.S. scripted series “House.”

“We’re excited to team up with Vuulr to ensure our content continues to be distributed all across the globe,” executive director at Kanal D International Ekin Koyuncu Karaman said in a statement. “There’s been an increasing demand for Turkish content worldwide. Vuulr’s global reach makes it easier  to get our titles into the hands of broadcasters and streaming platforms regardless of their location or time zone.”

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“As the demand for international content continues to soar, we’re delighted to expand the breadth of the catalogue available on Vuulr with this exciting partnership with Kanal D International, which will bring more than 2,000 hours of premium new Turkish series to our platform,” Vuulr chief content officer Natasha Malhotra said in a statement. “Their heartwarming dramas and world-class production have universal appeal and Vuulr makes this content available to buyers from around the world in a simple, frictionless way as we continue our mission to transform the distribution and acquisition ecosystem.”

There are currently more than 30,000 unique films and TV titles available on Vuulr, amounting to more than 173,000 hours of content from 7,000 sellers in more than 120 countries, offering buyers a destination for content discovery and acquisition.

Warner Acquires Feature ‘The Fallout’ for HBO Max

Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to the SXSW multiple-award-winning feature The Fallout for HBO Max.

Written and directed by Megan Park in her feature filmmaking debut, the film won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards for Narrative Feature, and Park won the Brightcove Illumination Award honoring a filmmaker on the rise at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. The film will release exclusively on HBO Max where available globally and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in the balance of international markets.

The cast includes Jenna Ortega, along with Maddie Ziegler, Niles Fitch, Will Ropp, Lumi Pollack, John Ortiz, Julie Bowen and Shailene Woodley.

The story follows high schooler Vada (Ortega) as she navigates the emotional fallout she experiences in the wake of a school tragedy. Relationships with her family and friends, as well as her view of the world, are forever altered.

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“Making The Fallout was a journey I never expected to take and one that has changed me forever,” stated Park. “If by seeing this film just one teen feels less alone, less afraid, or somehow understood, that will make the journey worth every step.”

“What Megan Park has created with The Fallout is a sensitive and moving story, marking a stunning debut behind the camera, with an exceptional young cast led by a revelatory and powerful performance by Jenna Ortega and an emotionally impactful turn from Maddie Ziegler,” Carolyn Blackwood, COO of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement.

“We shot the film during the height of COVID, and despite all the stoppages and setbacks, we knew we had to tell this story now. HBO Max is the perfect home for this film, and we are pleased to be working with the whole team at Warner Bros. to bring the film to audiences around the world,” stated producers Shaun Sanghani, David Brown, Rebecca Miller and Cara Shine.

The Fallout was produced by Shaun Sanghani of SSS Entertainment and David Brown of Clear Horizon alongside Rebecca Miller, Cara Shine and Todd Lundbohm. Joannie Burstein and Giulia Prenna also produced.

Redbox Entertainment Acquires Nick Cannon Film ‘She Ball’

Redbox Entertainment has acquired the North American distribution rights to She Ball, a feature written, produced and directed by Nick Cannon, who also stars.

The film will be released simultaneously in theaters and will be widely available on demand including via Redbox on Aug. 6.

She Ball follows the love of basketball through the struggles of Avery Watts (Cannon), who enlists the help of a women’s streetball league to help him save the embattled Inglewood Community Center he manages, all while trying to raise his 7-year-old daughter.

The film also stars Bryan ‘Birdman’ Williams, Chris Brown, Cedric the Entertainer, DC Young Fly, Evan Ross, Faizon Love and Rebecca De Mornay. The movie also features athletes from the WNBA, Ball Up, and the Basketball Beauties League, including Melody Rae, and Jaliyah Manuel. K.D. Aubert, Luenell and Marla Gibbs also star in the film.

“Nick Cannon, one of the most prolific Black voices in our industry, has created a feature that truly captures the spirit of our unique times with She Ball,” Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, said in a statement. “She Ball tackles the critical issues of race and justice facing our nation today in an enlightening and entertaining way.”

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“Seeing this project come to life with my incredibly talented and committed team has been nothing but rewarding, powerful and, most importantly — fun!” Cannon said in a statement. “I believe this film conveys a strong message about the importance of aligning with today’s racial and social justice movements and fight for equality; while also taking us through a resonant example of someone in the community trying to make ends meet. I’m excited to partner with Galen and Redbox on this project to ensure the film reaches a wide audience who will hopefully enjoy taking the journey with Avery!”

She Ball is produced by Cannon, Williams, Brown, Roger Ubina, Demetrius Spencer and Benjamin Sumpter. Executive producers are Michael Goldman and Robert H. Keetch.

She Ball is the latest in a string of acquisitions from Redbox that includes The Last Son (starring Sam Worthington), Capone (starring Tom Hardy), Shadow in the Cloud (starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson), SAS: Red Notice (with Sam Heughan and Ruby Rose) and American Traitor: The True Story of Axis Sally (with Al Pacino and Meadow Williams). It also comes on the heels of Redbox’s venture with “John Wick” producer Basil Iwanyk to form Asbury Park Pictures, which is programming a slate of high-concept action and thriller films over the next few years.

The film is part of the “Redbox Original” slate of theatrical movies aimed at Redbox’s 40 million U.S. customers.

Redbox has engaged Vertical Entertainment as its distribution partner for the feature.

The deal was negotiated by Marc Danon, head of original content for Redbox Entertainment.