Exclusive: Fox eyes int’l partners & acquisitions as CEO Rob Wade talks up flexibility

Rob Wade

Fox Entertainment is looking to rapidly expand its global reach by partnering with international producers on shows, with further acquisitions potentially on the agenda, according to newly anointed CEO Rob Wade.

Wade, who now leads Fox following Charlie Collier’s recent departure to Roku, told TBI here in Cannes that his company is open to sharing IP and is looking to strike partnerships with scripted and unscripted producers around the world.

Next Level Chef

“We can share IP – particularly with creatives, they can come to us. We are lean, not overburdened with having to offset a huge amount of cost and… we can work out rights positions and deals. Yes, we will be financing everything but if we can see a path to success and profit we will do it,” the Brit said.

Expansion plans

Fox has been quietly building back its business having sold the vast majority of its entertainment assets to Disney for $71bn, since when Wade’s firm has added animation house Bento Box Entertainment, TMZ, MarVista Entertainment and Studio Ramsay Global.

Fox Entertainment also includes the in-house unscripted studio Fox Alternative Entertainment, scripted content creator Fox Entertainment Studios, Blockchain Creative Labs, and the worldwide content sales unit Fox Entertainment Global.

“Our long-term growth strategy is all about content ownership, partnerships and building lower cost production model,” the former BBC Studios exec added, pointing to Fox’s Next Level Chef – which is being produced at a UK hub and has been sold to ITV – as an example of its new approach to keeping costs down.

Fox is also in the market for further international production company acquisitions, but Wade admits they “carry various complications” regarding value. “You have to really consider what you are getting – with Studio Ramsay, for example, it was a British production company and we had to think what the value was. Also, we have to think what we can do for these companies, how to scale them.”

The real focus, however, is on striking international partnerships in a way that Fox has not really done before, said Michael Thorn, president of entertainment.

“We don’t have what most people would call a traditional vertical integrated studio and we see that as a huge asset. We’re one of the few companies in town that can really partner with anybody.

“On the scripted side, we’re hoping to do a bit more of what Rob was doing on the unscripted side – so we’re here meeting with potential international partners. It’s a new path for content for us and a new business model on scripted side that we haven’t really pursued before.”

The aim is to “leverage our independence to be the premier partner for incredible international studios to come to us first and get the marketing and creative partnerships that we have been offering locally for decades,” Thorn added.


Procedurals and “culture piercing dramas, with larger than life characters, truth tellers who may evolve or devolve” are top of Thorn’s wishlist, he says, and there will be a “few more character-driven procedurals” in the works too.

“We’re also buying IP ourselves that we will take out to partners, we have an English thriller and a French detective series for example, and we will take those shows out to the world.”

Animated focus

Fox is also busily building up a new stack on animated projects, as it prepares for life without some of the legacy series such as The Simpsons that will fully revert back to Disney in the the next two years.

“Animation is so exciting. We have a few more years with our legacy shows which are incredible, they’re iconic, but our focus is now reigniting the next wave of 100% Fox-owned animation,” Thorn said, pointing to shows such as Krapopolis.

“As a studio, we have restructured to be more global,” added Bentox CEO, Scott Greenberg. “We’re here licensing shows but we have a studio in Australia and we’re looking at other places in the world too, so we’re leveraging local productions.”

Wade also points to Tubi as a “brilliant pipeline for originals”, adding that its original series, Kitchen Commando, will not be its last. “From our point of view, the potential of that business is limitless.”

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