US publisher Scholastic to buy 9 Story Media for $186m

Eva The Owlet (Source: Apple TV)

US-based publisher Scholastic is buying Canada’s 9 Story Media Group for C$250m ($186m).

The children’s publishing firm behind Clifford The Big Red Dog has signed a definitive agreement to take full control of 9 Story subject to customary closing adjustments, buying 100% of the economic interest and a minority of voting rights.

Scholastic said the acquisition would “significantly expand” opportunities to leverage its brand and IP, with the deal building off partnerships that have seen the firms working together on shows such as PBS Kids’ Clifford the Big Red Dog and Eva the Owlet for Apple TV+.

Scholastic’s & 9 Story combined assets

The acquisition will hand Scholastic divisions including Brown Bag Films, which is behind Octonauts, Doc McStuffins and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, as well as 9 Story Distribution International, which represents more than 5,000 half-hour episodes of 2-D/3-D animated and live-action kids shows.

The Toronto-based firm employs around 850 staff and also has offices in Dublin, New York and Bali. Its other divisions include consumer products arm 9 Story Brands and Portfolio Entertainment, which it acquired in February, handing it more than 550 half-hours of content.

9 Story, which posted annual revenues of $104m last year, also recently unveiled a deal with Crayola Studios to handle production and distribution on all new, original projects.

Goosebumps (Source: Disney+)

Scholastic, meanwhile, reported revenues of $1.7bn in 2022 and already operates its own production unit with Scholastic Entertainment, which was relaunched in 2017 by president Iole Lucchese.

Its slate includes Goosebumps for Disney+ and Hulu, which was extended into a second season, while the parent publishing company holds rights to IP such as Horrible Histories and The Baby-Sitters Club.

It also holds perpetual publishing rights to Harry Potter and Hunger Games series in the US.

Lucchese said the deal “presents a huge opportunity to expand the footprint of Scholastic’s authors and illustrators and to build global franchises on every platform, creating more value for the creators and for our shareholders.”

Peter Warwick, Scholastic president & CEO, described the acquisition as a “highly strategic combination” that would have “tremendous potential to build deeper connections with young people through our stories, as the pages of our books come to life on screens and through merchandising.”

Vince Commisso, president & CEO at 9 Story, added: “We’ve been fortunate to work with Scholastic for decades, going back to my own start with the family-favorite production, The Magic School Bus.

“The combination of our global studios, sales and distribution capabilities with Scholastic’s existing media business, iconic name and unique capabilities opens even more opportunities to deliver compelling stories and build impactful brands for audiences worldwide.”

The deal is expected to close this summer.

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