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Byron Allen Wants to Add OTT Sports to Entertainment Studios Portfolio

Byron Allen, The Comedian, TV Producer and programming entrepreneur who recently bought The Weather Channel and is preparing to launch a sports streaming service, has joined the keynote lineup at the OTT & Video Distribution Summit on Aug. 2 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Allen, is the founder, owner, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, a distribution company overseeing eight high-definition networks, dozens of first-run syndicated shows and more than 5,000 hours of HD content. He has also entered the world of independent film producing, most notably with 2017’s surprise, shark-themed thriller 47 Meters Down starring Mandy Moore.

ES recently bought The Weather Group in a deal valued at $300 million. The acquisition brings cable network The Weather Channel and streaming service Local Now under the ES umbrella.

Allen has been a staunch advocate for African-American-owned networks (including his own channel group, which includes Comedy.TV, Justice Central, Recipe.TV, ES.TV, MyDestination.TV, Cars.TV and Pets.TV), to the point of filing lawsuits against major distributors he felt acted in a discriminatory manner. ES channels obtained carriage on AT&T-owned DirecTV and U-verse after one such lawsuit, and he also took aim at Comcast and Charter Communications.

“The internet is definitely having a huge impact on how people consume content, and that is unfortunately at the expense of independents and minority voices — especially people of color — and that is something that we have to be very careful about,” he told Multichannel News in an interview on the topic in 2016. “It’s important for all of our voices to be heard and widely distributed, and unfortunately that isn’t the case.”

Now Allen is moving closer to launching a global sports service that will aggregate programming from independent sports networks onto one platform, sold by subscription directly to consumers. Originally slated for late 2017, the still unnamed service is aiming for a beta launch this month ahead of a full launch around the end of the third quarter, ES officials said this week. The ES entry comes at a time when direct-to-consumer sports offerings including aggregation are popping up all over, including ESPN’s ESPN+, Turner’s Bleacher Report Live and CBS’s CBS Sports HQ. Allen joins a speaker lineup at the OTT & Video Distribution Summit that also includes Kathy Payne, head of content acquisition management, Amazon Prime Video Channels; Simon Adams, general manager, video and sports, Gracenote; Jeff Binder, executive VP, home and entertainment, T-Mobile; and Will Marks, senior VP, Ovation.

Key Takeaways

Who? Byron Allen, founder, owner, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, will deliver a keynote speech at the 2018 OTT & Video Distribution Summit.

Why? Allen, the entrepreneur and founder of eight themed high-definition entertainment channels, has set his sights on over-the-top streaming, too.

Now What? Sign up to meet and learn from Allen and other top speakers from Amazon, Gracenote, T-Mobile, Akamai, Ovation and more.