Multiplatform media company Anthem Sports & Entertainment has acquired a majority interest in HDNet, parent of U.S. television networks AXS TV and HDNet Movies, and will assume operating management of the two channels that cater to music, sports, entertainment and lifestyle audiences. The deal also includes AXS TV’s extensive library of owned programming, including wrestling, MMA and entertainment content.
Joining as an investor is prominent radio broadcaster, entertainer and TV host Steve Harvey, who also enters into a strategic agreement for content development and promotion of Anthem’s portfolio of channels. Steve Harvey Global will also have a seat on Anthem’s board of directors.
The two networks are designed to add significantly to Anthem’s growing portfolio of content, which is currently available in 120 countries and includes diverse and popular sports and entertainment programming targeted to Millennial viewers.
“Anthem was founded with a mission to deliver compelling, targeted content and experiences to passionate fans globally on the platform of their choice,” said Leonard Asper, CEO, Anthem Sports & Entertainment, in a statement. “The music, sports and entertainment communities served by these channels are a natural extension and perfect complement to our existing properties. The addition of AXS TV and HDNet Movies will allow for increased content ownership, digital expansion and even more compelling programming for consumers and our distribution partners.”
Mark Cuban and AEG will continue to participate as equity partners, and AEG Global Partnerships, AEG’s advertising and sponsorship sales unit, will continue to support the channels in conjunction with Anthem’s sales team. In addition to Harvey, Anthem’s board of directors will include Ted Goldthorpe, head of BC Partners Credit, a lead financier on the acquisition; Rick Ehrman, a former senior executive at Univision and NBC Universal; Robert Foster, founder and CEO of Capital Canada; Scott Honour, founding principal of Northern Pacific Group; and Loudon Owen, chairman and CEO of DLT Labs.
“My team and I see great opportunity in Anthem,” Harvey said. “They have incredible shows, experiential entertainment and a huge reach. We look forward to collaborating with Anthem on content development that will surprise and delight this newly expanded audience.”
AXS TV and HDNet Movies will continue operating from existing facilities in Denver and Los Angeles, and the combined company will include Anthem’s playout and production center in Toronto and production facilities in Nashville and Europe.
With the transaction, Anthem channels are now estimated to reach nearly 150 million global TV homes, including more than 110 million MVPD-served TV households in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, Anthem’s proprietary content is distributed to more than 160 million global TV homes through licensing agreements.