WPP has taken what it’s calling a “significant minority stake” in Indigenous Media LLC, a new Hollywood digital studio founded by Jon Avnet, his son Jake and Rodrigo Garcia. Jon Avnet’s credits include “Black Swan,” “Risky Business,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” and “Justified.”
Indigenous will produce scripted content and develop multiplatform digital channels for content distribution. Jon Miller, former head of digital at News Corp., will serve as non-executive chairman at Indigenous.
Along with WPP, UK broadcast network ITV is also investing in the new studio. WPP and ITV will contribute advertising and distribution expertise to help the startup entity attract brand sponsorships, and global distribution on multiple platforms. Other investors include Advancit Capital and individuals including Steven Tisch, Michael Price and Dr. Aaron Stern.
The Avnets and Garcia are also the founders of the female-centric WIGS digital content production house, which has Fox Broadcasting as its strategic partner. WIGS, which is available on Hulu and FOXNOW, develops original series, short films, and documentaries, all starring female leads.
For WPP the Indigenous stake is the latest investment it has made in content producers and distributors. Other WPP investments include MRC, in 2007, which developed “Borat,” “Bruno,” “Ted” and the “House of Cards” series for Netflix. In addition, WPP has invested in online content company VICE since 2011, for a stake currently valued at approximately $300 million following VICE’s most recent financing, which valued the company at $2.5 billion.
In 2013 WPP invested in Fullscreen, the YouTube network that reaches 375 million subscribers, who watch 12 billion minutes of content per month.
WPP has also invested in The Weinstein Company; SFX Entertainment, the leading global platform for electronic dance music events; and Imagina, a content rights and media company based in Spain. WPP Digital also has a content generation partnership with Say Media, in addition to Fullscreen and VICE.Within WPP, GroupM Entertainment -- part of the Group’s media investment management company GroupM -- oversees intellectual property development, financing, production and distribution with a global portfolio of well over 120 properties.