Byron Allen: Programmers ‘Cannot Be Big Enough’

Marina del Rey, Calif. — In the current content climate, companies need scale and leverage. So said Byron Allen, founder, owner, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, at the OTT & Video Distribution Summit.

“Where you get in trouble is if you’re too small,” Allen said during his keynote. “You cannot be big enough. You have to get bigger, and you have to do it quickly. And the way you do it is you have to do it through acquisitions.” Allen’s ES bought The Weather Channel parent The Weather Group this year. The acquisition, he said, gives the company leverage to help its seven other networks: Cars.tv, Comedy. tv, ES.tv, MyDestination.tv, Pets.tv, Recipe.tv and JusticeCentral.tv.

“As we get greater distribution for these other seven networks, there’s about $100 million a year in advertising in each network,” he said.

This year, Entertainment Studios turned 25, but the road to that milestone was not always smooth. “I never stopped picking up the phone and dialing and selling and dialing and selling,” Allen told MCN managing director of content Mark Robichaux. The entrepreneur cited a New York Times article about Verizon’s investment in fiber and plans to launch 150 HD channels. The article inspired Allen to reach out to Verizon and, while he didn’t get the 10 HD channels he wanted, Verizon did give him six, which eventually led to a seventh with the pickup of Justice Central.

ES owns the content on its networks, something Allen said will become more and more valuable for companies as technology changes and morphs.

The Detroit-born programmer is looking to the future in other ways as well.

Sports.tv, Allen said, will “segregate, aggregate and globalize sports.”

“The true religion of the world is sports,” he said. “That’s why we’re saying Sports.tv is for us; that’s everything. And that’s the war we’re going to win.”

Jessika is content engagement director of Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV. She has been with the brands in various roles since 2013. In her current role, she works primarily behind the screen, keeping an eye on the website and fixing any site bugs. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects for NextTV, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.