|Formerly||CF Entertainment (1993-2003)|
|Byron Allen (chairman, CEO)|
|$1 billion (2017)|
|Owner||Allen Media Group|
Number of employees
|Footnotes / references|
Entertainment Studios, Inc. is an American media and entertainment company based in Los Angeles. Owned and founded in 1993 by African-American comedian Byron Allen, the company was initially involved in the production and distribution of first-run television series for U.S. television syndication. Under the Entertainment Studios Networks division, it also operates a group of digital cable and satellite channels, which broadcast a mix of original programs and the company's syndicated content.
In the late 2010s, the company made several major expansions to its operations, including entering the film distribution market, acquiring The Weather Channel from NBCUniversal and Bain Capital, partnering with Sinclair Broadcast Group to acquire the regional sports network chain Fox Sports Networks, and its acquisition of television stations from another minority-owned media group, Bayou City Broadcasting.
Entertainment Studios was founded in 1993 as CF Entertainment by Byron Allen. The company was initially focused on producing low-cost, syndicated non-fiction programming, including interview series and court shows (largely scripted from actual testimony). Allen serves as host for some of these programs. In December 2003, CF became Entertainment Studios.
Entertainment Studios greenlit its first film and stage projects in December 2011, when it acquired the rights to develop a biographical film and theatrical play on the life of Sammy Davis, Jr. from Davis' daughter with actor/singer, Tracey Davis.
The company ventured into scripted programming in 2012, with the third-quarter launch of the sitcoms Mr. Box Office and The First Family. Both are set for 104 episodes over two years under a model of accelerated production similar to Debmar-Mercury's 10-90 Model. The two half hour shows were picked up as a two-hour weekend primetime programming block with two episodes of each show back to back by Tribune, Weigel and CBS Television Station groups. The company launched its eighth cable channel and first ad-supported service, Justice Central.TV, on December 10, 2012.
In October 2015, Entertainment Studios acquired Freestyle Releasing for an undisclosed amount "said to be sealed for high-eight figures". Freestyle also had an output deal with Netflix. The Freestyle purchase was used to bolster an expansion into film distribution, via its new Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures division. Its first release, 47 Meters Down, took in $44 million in box office revenue.
Across 2015, the company separately sued AT&T, Comcast and Charter Communications for racial discrimination in being biased against minority run entertainment companies in not carrying its cable channels. AT&T settled in December with the addition of 7 of Entertainment Studios' channels added to AT&T's DirecTV line up. Entertainment Studios added similar suits against Charter and the FCC. The Comcast case, though initially dismissed at the district court, was allowed to go forward by the Ninth Circuit; Comcast was able to successfully petition the Supreme Court to hear its case in Comcast v. National Association of African-American-Owned Media during November 2019. The Charter case, also allowed to proceed by the Ninth Circuit, still has its petition pending at the Supreme Court.
In June 2016, Entertainment Studios acquired TheGrio, a news website focusing on stories of interest to African Americans. In mid-September 2017, the company announced plans to launch an over the top sports streaming service known as Sports.tv.
On March 22, 2018, Entertainment Studios announced its intent to acquire The Weather Channel's television assets from an NBCUniversal/Bain Capital/Blackstone Group partnership. The actual value was undisclosed, but was reported to be around $300 million; the channel's non-television assets, which were separately sold to IBM two years prior, were not included in the sale.
In September 2018, Entertainment Studios announced that it had arranged $500 million worth of credit facilities through Deutsche Bank Securities, Jefferies Financial Group, Brightwood Capital Advisors and Comerica. Allen explained that these funds were to be used for further "large-scale" acquisitions, productions, and other general expenses. In an interview with Variety, Allen stated that he was "not a seller", and that he was "one or two acquisitions away from being a fairly large company". On May 3, 2019, it was announced that, under the subsidiary Diamond Sports Group, Entertainment Studios would be an equity and content partner in Sinclair Broadcast Group's acquisition of Fox Sports Networks.
On May 6, 2019, Entertainment Studios announced that it would expand into television station ownership by acquiring the stations of Bayou City Broadcasting for $165 million, including Evansville, Indiana's WEVV-TV and WEEV-LD, and Lafayette, Louisiana's KADN-TV and KLAF-LD. The stations will operate under the new unit, Allen Media Broadcasting. The sale was completed on July 31, 2019. On October 1, 2019, Allen Media Group agreed to purchase 11 stations from USA Television for $290 million. The sale of the Heartland stations was approved by the FCC on November 22, 2019, and it was completed on February 11, 2020.
Allen Media Broadcasting, LLC is an American television station operating company that is owned by Entertainment Studios.
On May 6, 2019, Entertainment Studios announced that it would expand into television station ownership by acquiring the stations of Bayou City Broadcasting for $165 million, including Evansville, Indiana's WEVV-TV and WEEV-LD, and Lafayette, Louisiana's KADN-TV and KLAF-LD. The stations will operate under the new division Allen Media Broadcasting. Allen Media made an offer for Tegna TV station group as the third known bidder.
Stations are arranged in alphabetical order by state and city of license.
|City of license / Market||Station||Channel
|Owned since||Network affiliation|
|Huntsville, Alabama||WAAY-TV §§||31 (17)||2020||ABC|
|Chico - Redding, California||KHSL-TV §§||12 (36)||2020|
|Evansville, Indiana||WEVV-TV ##||44 (28)||2015|
(Repeater of WEVV-DT2)
|Fort Wayne, Indiana||WFFT-TV §§||55 (20)||2020||Fox|
|West Lafayette, Indiana||WLFI-TV §§||18 (11)||2020|
|Terre Haute, Indiana||WTHI-TV §§||10 (10)||2020|
|Mason City, Iowa - Rochester, Minnesota||KIMT §§||3 (24)||2020|
|Lafayette, Louisiana||KADN-TV ##||15 (16)||2019|
|KLAF-LD ##||46 (14)||2019||NBC|
|Eugene, Oregon||KEZI §§||9 (9)||2020||ABC|
|Tupelo - Columbus, Mississippi||WTVA §§||9 (11)||2020|
|Medford - Klamath Falls, Oregon||KDRV §§||12 (12)||2020||ABC|
(Satellite of KDRV)
In 2016, Entertainment Studios began to make major expansions into film distribution; at the Sundance Film Festival, the company made a surprise $20 million bid for The Birth of a Nation, losing to Fox Searchlight. In July 2016, Entertainment Studios signed a multi-year home video and on-demand distribution deal with Anchor Bay Entertainment, covering future theatrical releases by the company. The studio acquired its first film later that month, with the North American rights to 47 Meters Down from Dimension Films. At the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, Entertainment Studios also bought Chappaquiddick, Replicas, and Hostiles. Entertainment Studios aimed to distribute at least 18 films in 2018. In January 2018, on his film distribution model, Allen stated:
We're chasing the studio crumbs. They don't want movies that do $40 million to $60 million. We totally will be good with those numbers, and that is what we're pursuing. Our thing is we are really big on slow roll-outs and small releases. Our philosophy — we believe in wide releases. We like to have movies that are 1,500-4,000 screens and we are chasing what the studios don't want. They're chasing much bigger. And we're going to take their crumbs and make a gourmet meal. And then eventually we'll move on to chasing more than their crumbs. But today we're chasing the crumbs.
|Year||Release Date||Film title||Director||Gross||Ref|
|2017||June 16, 2017||47 Meters Down||Johannes Roberts||$44.3 million|||
|September 22, 2017||Friend Request||Simon Verhoeven||$3.7 million|||
|December 22, 2017||Hostiles||Scott Cooper||$40.9 million|||
|2018||March 9, 2018||The Hurricane Heist||Rob Cohen||$15.8 million|||
|April 6, 2018||Chappaquiddick||John Curran||$18 million|||
|2019||January 11, 2019||Replicas||Jeffrey Nachmanoff||$8.1 million|||
|July 12, 2019||Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable||Aaron Lieber|||
|August 16, 2019||47 Meters Down: Uncaged||Johannes Roberts||$22.2 million|||
|September 20, 2019||The Wedding Year||Robert Luketic|||
|November 1, 2019||Arctic Dogs||Aaron Woodley||$3.6 million|||
|November 22, 2019||All Rise||Anthony Mandler|||