Jan 31, 2023
‘Love Is Blind’ Producer Gets $150 Million Investment from Qatar
(Bloomberg) -- Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is investing $150 million in North Road Co., an independent studio that produces the TV series Love Is Blind and the Planet of the Apes films, a sign that Hollywood’s growing austerity hasn’t dampened investor enthusiasm for entertainment.
The deal values North Road at more than $1 billion and resumes a relationship between the Qataris and media mogul Peter Chernin, North Road’s chief executive officer. The Qatar Investment Authority previously invested in the Chernin Group, the investment and media company he founded after leaving Fox.
The money from Qatar is on top of an earlier commitment of as much as $500 million from Providence Equity Partners and another $300 million in debt financing from Apollo Global Management Inc. Chernin is stockpiling cash because he believes that several entertainment assets will go up for sale in the coming year or two and wants to have the resources to make deals. His company is already looking at three or four transactions, but he declined to specify which ones.
“There will be plenty of opportunities,” Chernin said in an interview. “Rather than find an opportunity we don’t have money for, we’d rather have enough of a bankroll that we have flexibility.”
Chernin has already made a large bet on the value of unscripted programming. North Road last year acquired Red Arrow Studios’ US assets, which owns the reality TV production outfit Kinetic Content. Kinetic produced some of Netflix’s most popular unscripted programs, including Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum.
Chernin founded North Road last year as a holding company for several production companies and studios. He wants to build one of the largest suppliers of programming to global streaming services such as Netflix.
Its assets include his namesake company, which produced Ford vs. Ferrari and the recent Planet of the Apes films, as well as Words + Pictures, a sports-focused producer led by former ESPN executive Connor Schell. Words + Pictures now has more than a dozen projects in production.
While a slowing economy has prompted greater cost consciousness from many Hollywood buyers, Chernin believes that his company is well positioned to keep selling to all of them.
“Content spending will continue to grow, it’s grown every single year of my lifetime,” he said. “As those big platforms get bigger and bigger, there will be greater need for experienced, trustworthy, well-financed independents.”
Streaming services’ desire to limit costs will make them more willing to share risk on projects with outside entities and, in time maybe, share some of the upside on shows, he said.
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