Television Business International

Bell takes Wow stake in equity swap deal

Michael HirshCanada’s Bell Media has taken a 12% stake in compatriot kids company Wow! Unlimited Media as part of an equity swap agreement.

The deal sees Wow acquiring a Category B specialty network licence from Bell in exchange for an equity stake worth C$6.87 million (US$5.64 million).

This will see Wow launching a branded linear network and associated on-demand services.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Wow! Unlimited Media is part of Wow, which was formed when Canada’s Rainmaker Entertainment acquired kids companies Frederator Networks and Ezrin Hirsh Entertainment (EHE) for a total of C$22.2 million.

These firms combined to create Wow, with former DHX Media chief Michael Hirsh (pictured), who co-created EHE, taking control of the business on a day-to-day basis as chairman and CEO.

Frederator founder Fred Seibert was named chief creative officer.

Announcing the deal back in June, Wow’s Hirsh said the deal would “drive our planned multi-platform rollout of a new paradigm in entertainment for kids and youth across North America”, and provide momentum for expansion plans outside the continent.

Bell president Randy Lennox said investing in Wow would allow it access significant amounts of programming for its on-demand CraveTV and Snackable TV services.

Bell owns Canada’s highest rated channel, CTV; four pay TV networks, and 30 specialty channels.

There was no word on which of these will transfer to Wow, which operates kids YouTube channels Frederator Networks and toon company Frederator Studios, Hispanic animation station Atomo Network, and Rainmaker.