Rapper and style icon Sean Combs, who’s chairman and co-founder of Revolt TV, says that the music channel was “used as a pawn” in the auction for Fuse, which the parent of Jennifer Lopez’ NuvoTV agreed to buy last month. His bid in March, estimated at $200M, fell short when Fuse owner MSG agreed to SiTV’s offer of $226M and a 15% stake in the company. “It’s cool. That’s the way business works,” Combs said at a panel at The Cable Show in LA. (Fuse today is laying off staffers as it prepares to merge with NuvoTV.)
Still, Combs is optimistic, promising to make Revolt “the No. 1 brand in music worldwide” — potentially rivaling ESPN and CNN — as he urged distributors to pick up the channel. Television ”was a natural evolution for me,” especially as he saw that “music was homeless” on the medium. That “left a wide open space for the No. 1 form of entertainment, especially among Millennials.” Read More »
Some Fuse staffers began getting pink slips today as the operation readies to merge with NuvoTV. Meetings with various categories of employees were held throughout the morning, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, who described a waiting-for-the-tumbrel scene filled with confusion and consternation at Fuse’s corner of parent MSG‘s 11 Penn Plaza HQ. “We announced in early April that we reached an agreement to sell Fuse to SiTV Media and these changes are part of that transition,” an MSG rep told Deadline, declining to elaborate. According to one insider, it’s that age-old “taking a look at what we need going forward” post-merger story.
Related: Sean Combs Says MSG Used Revolt TV To Bid Up Fuse Sale Price
Early last month, the parent company of Jennifer Lopez’s NuvoTV agreed to buy Fuse from MSG. SiTV Media agreed to pay $226M — and give MSG a 15% stake, the entities disclosed. The total value of the cash plus equity comes to about $275M, Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil estimated at the time. The company, where Lopez is a shareholder and Chief Creative Officer, outbid an offer from Sean Combs said to be around $200M. Fuse reaches 73M pay TV subscribers, and should boost SiTV and NuvoTV — a Latin American entertainment network that reaches about 34M homes. Read More »
SiTV Media agreed to pay $226M — and give MSG a 15% stake — the entities disclosed this morning. The total value of the cash plus equity comes to about $275M, Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil estimates. In any event, the company where Jennifer Lopez is a shareholder and Chief Creative Officer outbid an offer from Sean Combs said to be around $200M. Fuse reaches 73M pay TV subscribers, and should boost SiTV and NuvoTV — a Latin American entertainment network that reaches about 34M homes. With Fuse “we’ll have the ability to deliver a broad array of terrific content both from a Latino perspective and across multiple genres, including music, to a broader audience,” Lopez says. “The acquisition of Fuse means we now own two wonderful assets. It’s a phenomenal time for our company and we look forward to growing both networks in the years ahead.” SiTV CEO Michael Schwimmer adds that the deal “enhances our distribution relationships, dramatically expands our aggregate subscriber base, provides substantial economies of scale, affords unique opportunities for programming and cross-promotion and should be extremely appealing to the advertising community as we roll out our plans for both NuvoTV and Fuse.” Read More »
The performer who now just calls himself Diddy would use the music channel to boost distribution for his Revolt TV, another music service that launched in October, Bloomberg reports citing “three people with knowledge of the situation.” Comcast helped to launch Revolt to fulfill its agreement, in return for government support for its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, to add minority-owned networks. But it’s been hard to secure distribution: Revolt only reaches about 22.8M homes, while Fuse is in 74M. Madison Square Garden put Fuse on the block in September retaining JP Morgan to “explore all strategic alternatives.” Distributors pay an average of 8 cents per month for each home Fuse reaches. Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil noted at the time that Fuse could command a healthy price because its deals with distributors enable a buyer to reprogram the network to offer “anything other than live sports.” Many MSG shareholders are eager to see the company return cash to them, possibly by repurchasing shares. The stock has stagnated in recent months. In a call with analysts in February, Vice Chairman Hank Ratner — who was CEO at the time — declined to discuss MSG’s progress with the Fuse sale. Tad Smith, a former exec at Cablevision, took the top job at MSG last month. Cablevision CEO James Dolan is MSG’s executive chairman; his family controls about 69% … Read More »
This should relieve investors who feared that Madison Square Garden Executive Chairman Jim Dolan‘s decision to invest $125M in an entertainment partnership with music manager Irving Azoff would leave the sports and entertainment company strapped for cash. MSG says that it has been “approached by certain parties expressing interest in Fuse and [has] retained JP Morgan to explore all strategic alternatives” — which usually means a sale. The music channel reaches 73M pay TV homes, and distributors pay an average of 8 cents per month for each home. Fuse could sell for about $300M, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Senno figures following Al Jazeera’s agreement to pay $500M for Current TV which collected about 11 cents per sub from distributors. That would “more than offset capital used in recent investments” including the Azoff deal and a $25M investment in Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas. Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil also notes that Fuse could command a healthy price because its deals with distributors would enable a buyer to reprogram the network to offer “anything other than live sports.” Many MSG shareholders are eager to see the company return cash to them, possibly by repurchasing shares.
EXCLUSIVE: Funny Or Die‘s Billy On The Street, created by comedian Billy Eichner, will be returning for a new season on Fuse. The show blends comedy into a game show format setting host Eichner loose on the streets of NYC to quiz strangers on music and pop culture knowledge for money and prizes, with a celebrity guest joining Eichner in each episode. Eichner, a client of WME and 3 Arts, garnered a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Game Shot Host for the show earlier this year. The program’s third season will debut on Fuse in early 2014 in 10 new half-hour episodes. Billy On The Street is a Fuse original and is exec produced by Eicher, Anna Wenger, and Funny Or Die’s Mike Farah.
London Critics To Fete Helena Bonham Carter
The London Critics Circle is set to honor Helena Bonham Carter with the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film at the 33rd awards ceremony on January 20 in the capital city. Bonham Carter said in response, “To be chosen for this award is a surprise and an honor. I am delighted! It’s always nice when critics say something nice about you for a change, and especially the critics in your hometown.” Previous recipients have included Dirk Bogarde, Richard Attenborough, Julie Walters, Judi Dench, Nicolas Roeg, Quentin Tarantino and Kristin Scott Thomas. Bonham Carter’s most recent film roles include Miss Havisham in Mike Newell’s Great Expectations and Mme Thénardier in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. The London Critics Circle announces its film nominations on December 18. Read More »
The Madison Square Garden Company’s music-centered cable channel Fuse has picked up three new, original series, all set to premiere by early 2013. They join the renewed Funny Or Die’s Billy On The Street, which returns with new episodes in the fall. Here are descriptions of Fuse’s new series: Read More »
Execs at marginal cable channels who want to know how determined pay TV operators are to clear away what they consider programming deadwood should keep an eye on the carriage spat between Madison Square Garden and Time Warner Cable. They’re engaged in the season’s hottest battle over programming costs as they negotiate renewal terms for their current contract that expires on December 31. Per usual, there’s a lot of noise about who’d be most responsible for inconveniencing consumers if there’s in impasse — with most of the focus on the possible loss of popular regional sports channels MSG and MSG+, which carry the New York Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, and Buffalo Sabres. MSG has a hotline (1-888-keepmsg) that encourages Time Warner Cable customers to jump to another pay TV provider. “As excitement builds for the return of the NBA, Time Warner Cable is threatening to pull MSG Networks from its systems,” the programmer says. The cable company says that “the ball’s in MSG’s court, so these channels will come off only if MSG pulls the plug.”
But the most important issue is whether the No. 2 cable company will be able to drop MSG’s music video channel Fuse from its lineup — potentially resulting in $10M a year in lost revenue for MSG. “Fuse is watched by fewer than one-tenth of one percent of the customers who have it available — that’s just 4,000 customers out of more than 7.4M,” says Mike Angus, Time Warner Cable’s SVP Content Acquisition. MSG’s effort to package the music service with its popular regional sports channels “is nothing more than a tax on New York sports fans.” MSG says that Fuse “appeals to a growing audience of a desirable demographic and its unique partnership with MSG Entertainment ensures it offers programming, access, and promotion that no one else can.” The average pay TV provider pays about six cents a month for each customer who receives Fuse, SNL Kagan estimates. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Music TV network Fuse has finalized a deal for a series order to half-hour series Funny or Die’s Billy On The Street, starring comedian Billy Eichner. On the series, set to premiere December 22 at 11 PM, Eichner hits the streets of New York City to test pedestrians on their knowledge of pop culture in a fast-paced and comedic trivia-style game show. Funny Or Die’s president of production Mike Farah, Eichner and Krysia Plonka are executive producers. The project stems from Eichner’s viral “man on the street” videos (sample below), which he initially created for his live shows with the Upright Citizens Brigade. Funny Or Die originally made a video with Eichner last year to post on the site, but then the brass felt the video was a great concept for a TV show and pitched it out last spring. Pilot orders from six cable networks — including VH1, BBC America, Comedy Central, Bravo, and E! — followed, with Fuse landing the show after coming in with a straight-to-series order. Funny Or Die’s Billy On The Street marks Funny Or Die’s third series order, joining Funny Or Die Presents on HBO and Jon Benjamin Has A Van on Comedy Central. Read More »
ProSiebenSat.1´s production and distribution company Red Arrow Entertainment Group has acquired a majority stake in manager/producer Mikkel Bondesen’s U.S. production company Fuse. The Denmark-born Bondesen launched his U.S. production company in 2005. Its credits include USA’s Burn Notice and Fox’s The Good Guys, both created by Bondesen’s client Matt Nix, as well as AMC’s The Killing, whose format Bondesen brought to the U.S. from Denmark. All three series have been produced by Fox TV Studios, where Bondesen and Fuse have a first-look deal. Since its January 2010 launch, Red Arrow has been acquiring TV production companies and now owns majority stake in 12 companies spanning eight countries. Its first move in the U.S. was last year’s acquisition of 51% interest in Chris Coelen’s Kinetic Content, which specializes in unscripted series. The Fuse deal gives Red Arrow a similar foothold in the U.S. marketplace on the scripted side. As part of the Fuse deal, Swedish producer Henrik Bastin (ABC’s My Generation) has joined Fuse as partner and CEO and the company’s development executive Kristen Campo has been upped to partner.