The Brandon Tartikoff legacy award recognizes television professionals with passion, leadership, independence and vision. It would be hard to find someone who embodies that spirit quite as well as Byron Allen. As founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, the world’s largest independent producer/distributor of first-run syndicated programming for broadcast television, Allen has made an extraordinarily wide, varied and lauded swath of digital content available around the globe. His portfolio of seven 24-hour HD networks includes Cars.tv, Comedy.tv, ES.tv, MyDestination.tv, Pets.tv, Recipe.tv and JusticeCentral.tv. And it was no surprise when, last March, he added The Weather Channel to his programming empire; that network is available in 85 million U.S. households.
See Also:16th Annual NATPE Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards | Mara Brock Akil: A Writer With Game | Robert Greenblatt: A TV Change Agent | Rita Moreno: A Star for All Platforms | Betty White: An Enduring Sitcom Icon | Henry Winkler: Persistence Pays Off
“You have to get bigger and you have to do it quickly,” Allen told the 2018 OTT & Video Distribution Summit audience last August, during his keynote, regarding the need for size, scale and leverage in the industry’s current marketplace. “Where you get in trouble is if you’re too small,” he added. “You cannot be big enough.”
The same can be said for Allen’s lifetime of dreams. The 57-year-old exec, who famously sat behind Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show desk as a kid, accompanying his publicist mom to the set, then became the youngest standup comic anointed by Carson for an appearance when Allen was all of 18. In time, a co-hosting gig on NBC’s Real People followed, which proved to be foundational for his business interests, allowing him a view of the content world and the niche he would in time fill. The slate is impressive (and ES owns it all). Alongside his signature program, Entertainers with Byron Allen (launched when the company began some 25 years ago), ES features Emmy-nominated court series America’s Court with Judge Ross and We the People with Gloria Allred; the Emmy-winning Cars.TV; sitcoms Mr. Box Office and The First Family; and series Funny You Should Ask, Beautiful Homes & Great Estates, Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen, Career Day, Who Wants to Date a Comedian, The Young Icons and The Gossip Queens, among many others. There’s also a full-service independent film company through which Allen has already seen some box office winners (shark thriller 47 Meters Down) and plans to work in future with A-list stars including John Krasinski, Emily Blunt and Naomi Watts.
With an eye toward the future, and encouraged by the evolving present of tech, Allen also buys deeply into sports’ ability to attract an audience of faithful, live viewers. That’s why the next vista is Sports.tv, a global over-the-top sports platform that will aggregate sports onto one platform to be sold directly to consumers. It’s only the latest entry in Allen’s plans that he sees through with great determination. “Sports.tv is for us; that’s everything,” he announced in his keynote last year, to which he added with characteristic vision, “That’s the war we’re going to win.”
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Rob has written for Broadcasting+Cable since 2006, starting with his work on the magazine’s award-winning 75th-anniversary issue. He was born a few blocks away from Yankee Stadium … so of course he’s published three books on NASCAR, most notably, Full Throttle: The Life and Fast Times of NASCAR Legend Curtis Turner. He’s currently the special projects editor at TV Guide Magazine. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post and his origami art has been in The Wall Street Journal. He lives with his family in New Jersey and is writing a novel about the Wild West.