Formats giant Endemol has been hiring and headhunting the world’s key television executives for the last six months; the latest being Reed Midem director of television Paul Johnson leaving the Mip TV organisers to become Endemol’s global head of marketing.
New boss Ynon Kreiz is quickly putting together a strong team, backed by Italian broadcaster Mediaset and John de Mol.
This includes the audacious hires of Disney ABC ESPN Television boss Tom Toumazis last year, FremantleMedia’s Martha Brass and CME’s Marina Williams.
Is Endemol becoming the Manchester City FC of the television world, a company that thinks its new owners can afford any player it wishes?
Endemol clearly isn’t building a team so that it can carry on selling gameshows and reality formats. The company is keen to boost its scripted programming business and distribution (hence the Toumazis hire) and it is also aiming to grow in Latin America (where it recently bought La Lola producer Underground Contenidos), both moves that pitch it against the major US studios.
Could Endemol ever rival the likes of CBS Paramount, Fox, NBC Universal and Disney ABC? How could it achieve this?
One possibility could be a big ticket US acquisition such as Lionsgate. The studio has been producing hit after hit for the US cable networks including Weeds and Mad Men and has an extremely profitable indie movie studio business model.
It could also look at Mark Burnett Productions, the Apprentice producer that has been on the block for the last twelve months. It would add a number of hit formats to its catalog and tie in nicely with its recent acquisition of Flavor of Love-producer 51 Mind Entertainment.
Kreiz, the former Benchmark Capital venture capitalist, is a hardened dealmaker, and would likely relish these kind of game-chaging deals.
There are some suggestions that Endemol could also move outside of the production and distribution business; rumors continue to circulate that Endemol could be involved in a bid for UK commercial broadcaster ITV. While, the hire of ITV lead lawyer Andy Griffiths as global head of legal has hardly quitened down the rumors, such a move could lead to difficulties selling its programmes to rival broadcasters such as Big Brother to Channel 4.
What about a move into the kids business? Kreiz made his name as boss of Fox Kids Europe and the company, which is now known as Jetix, could be put up for sale. Disney is set to launch boy skewing kids channel, Disney XD, in the US next month and there is talk of a possible international roll out, which would certainly step on Jetix’s action-series toes. Kreiz has already launched a sports division, an unexpected move so it’s safe to say we can expect the unexpected.