Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios has acquired the Weather Group from The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast NBC Universal, the company said Thursday.
The purchase price was approximately $300 million, according to reports. The private purchase, which includes The Weather Channel and the Local Now streaming service, was made through Allen’s company Allen Media LLC. It does not include weather.com, which was sold separately to IBM in October 2015, as part of its $2 billion acquisition of The Weather Company.
“The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives,” said Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios in a statement. “We welcome The Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of The Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”
Part of Allen’s strategy is to take The Weather Channel global: “Our goal is to make it global on every device,” he said in an interview, and he plans to keep the channel's current staff in place to do that.
"We have amazing management in place, that’s what was very intriguing to us. We don’t anticipate any changes. We just want to enhance their position."
Meanwhile, the Local Now service includes 4,000 boxes on cable head-ends across the country that allows for locally targeted advertising to run in local news, weather and lifestyle content.
“There’s a lot that can be done in partnership with local television stations and content producers,” said Allen. “This is really a digital play, which gives us a global footprint. Now for the very first time we can be local, national and global."
Allen started Entertainment Studios 25 years ago as a seller of syndicated programs but has since expanded into theatrical film, releasing such movies as 47 Meters Down, starring Mandy Moore, and Hostiles, starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike. Entertainment Studios also has 41 TV shows on the air, including this season’s new entry, Funny You Should Ask. The company also owns eight cable TV networks, including Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV, Cars.TV, ES.TV, MyDestination.TV and JusticeCentral.TV.
On Allen’s side, the acquisition was represented by the law firms Sklar Kirsh, Nelson Mullins and Loeb & Loeb. The Weather Group, including The Weather Channel, was represented by Ropes & Gray and Jones Day with financial advisers Morgan Stanley, Allen & Company and PJT Partners.
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.