Hearst Buys Stake In NorthSouth Productions

Impractical-JokersIf there was ever a true believer that the public's appetite for unscripted programming is undiminished, it’s Hearst Corp. The company continues to acquire assets in production.

About two years after taking a 50% stake in Mark Burnett’s production house, the company has taken a half-stake in NorthSouth Productions. Terms were not disclosed.

NorthSouth is lower-profile than Burnett’s business, with the soon-to-be-launched series “Impractical Jokers” on truTV, and the veteran “Say Yes to the Dress” franchise on TLC. It has been behind “Lovetown, USA” on OWN, a BBC co-production that recently wrapped Season One, and has done work for various cable networks steeped in reality programming.

Scott Sassa, the former NBC and Turner executive, will oversee the Hearst interest in his role as president of the Hearst Entertainment & Syndication business. Hearst has a large stake in the A&E and History networks -- for which NorthSouth has done work -- and a 20% chunk of ESPN.

Twelve-year-old NorthSouth is led by executive producers Charlie DeBevoise and Mark Hickman.

“This partnership gives us a significantly stronger presence in cable network production, which is experiencing a steady growth in overall demand,” stated Hearst Corp. CEO Frank Bennack. “When we first partnered with Mark Burnett in 2011 and entered television production, we had a strategic vision of building a full-service 21st century production company. NorthSouth is an important piece in furthering this effort.”

The Burnett deal has Hearst capitalizing on the NBC smash “The Voice.”

Tags: cable tv, m&a, media
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