Discovery Communications and Universal Pictures are backing the production entity of prolific exec producer Will Packer.
Discovery’s investment hands company CEO Packer a first-look television deal with cable channel OWN, which is a joint venture with Oprah Winfrey.
He is known for packaging low budget movies and delivering strong returns from them through his previous prodco, Will Packer Productions. In TV circles, he is known for executive producing A&E drama Roots, ABC’s Uncle Buck and NBC’s Truth Be Told.
The prodco will target what it defines as the “new American mainstream audience” – a demo that has an urban millennial core – from offices in LA, New York and Atlanta.
Producer Packer has had nine movies debut at number one at the box office, including Think Like a Man, Ride Along, The Wedding Ringer and Straight Outta Compton.
Will Packer Media will produce scripted and unscripted series for TV and digital platforms, while also targeting content for brand clients. Additionally, it will develop a “consumer-facing digital destination” that will offer short-form content to millennials.
“We are creating a new model for content production that sees TV and digital as equals, and combines the best of storytelling and brands for an underserved audience.”
As part of the launch, Will Packer Media has acquired creative and tech company Narrative_, as a “core” part of the new business.
Narrative_ co-founder Tricia Clarke-Stone will become Will Packer’s head of brand studio, with Scripps Networks Interactive senior VP and general manager of digital operations Alix Baudin becoming a company co-founder, plus president and COO.
Baudin will oversee Will Packer’s day-to-day operations, growth strategy and digital initiatives.
Financial terms of the Discovery and Universal deals were not disclosed.
Packer’s existing first-look movie deal with NBCUniversal-owned Universal Pictures will continue separately to the new production company.
Packer previously had a first-look deal with Universal Television, which he stuck upon forming his prodco in 2013.
On the production front, Discovery already owns 50% of UK-based production giant All3Media.
THE DEAL IN QUOTES
David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications: “As the media industry continues its rapid transformation, and as younger, more diverse viewers seek to be nourished by content across all screens, it’s more important than ever to have a direct line to the most creative minds in the business.
“Discovery is proud to lead the investment in Will Packer Media and we are excited for the opportunities, both creative and commercial, that this new model of company and its strong leadership team can bring to life for audiences and advertisers.”
Erik Logan, president of OWN: “Will Packer has an incredible track record of proven hits and we couldn’t be more excited to work together on new scripted and unscripted programming opportunities for OWN with this new venture.”
Alix Baudin, president and COO of Will Packer Media: “Our goal is to be the leading storytelling company focused on our core demographic of New American Mainstream audiences across multiple devices and platforms.”