EXCLUSIVE: The non-fiction space is heating up in terms of M&A as Boardwalk Pictures, the company behind long-running Netflix series such as Chef’s Table and Last Chance U, has struck a deal to sell a minority stake.
The company, founded by Andrew Fried, has sold a stake to investment firm Shamrock Capital. No one is commenting, but we understand that the deal is in the nine-figure range.
The move is the latest big-ticket deal in the booming non-fiction space and follows deals such as Sony Pictures Television’s $350M acquisition of Industrial Media, Peter Chernin’s North Road Company’s $200M purchase of Red Arrow Studios, Fremantle’s acquisitive streak including companies such as 72 Films, and ITV Studio’s $126M deal for Plimsoll Productions.
Fried, who directed We Are Freestyle Love Supreme, founded the company in 2010 and also makes series such as FX’s Welcome To Wrexham, HBO Max’s The Big Brunch, Showtime’s We Need To Talk About Cosby, Netflix’s Cheer and Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? and Amazon’s Val.
He told Deadline that the investment will allow the company to branch out into more genres within the non-scripted space and make some big-ticket hires.
Given that much of its output has been for Netflix and other streamers, Fried would like to move into more traditional alternative formats, gameshows and comedy specials.
“We haven’t made Boardwalk shows for so many other types of partners. We’ve not really made boardwalk shows with any cable networks. We’ve not we’ve not had partnerships with broadcast networks. So we start to ask ourselves, what does a Boardwalk live event look like? What does a boardwalk show for an NBC or CBS or an ABC look like?,” he told Deadline.
He said that the non-fiction business has moved closer to the mainstream Hollywood entertainment world. “Covid probably was a catalyst. I think a lot of people were at home discovering new things and watching them together in different ways,” he added.
Shamrock Capital, which was founded by Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney, recently raised $600M to acquire content and media rights. It owns stakes in Fanduel and kids entertainment business Silvergate, bought the master rights to Taylor Swift’s first six studio albums and recently did a deal with Universal Music Group to acquire numerous assets from Dr. Dre in a $200M pact.
“We believe that authentic storytelling will always have an engaged audience,” said Mike LaSalle, Partner at Shamrock Capital. “Andrew and the Boardwalk team are pioneers in crafting honest, real, and raw narratives in unique and compelling ways. They have raised the standard for high quality nonfiction content, delving into a wide range of subject matters that resonate with audiences around the world. We are excited to partner with this talented team as they continue to bring their skills and sensibilities to new genres, formats, and mediums.”
Fried joked that the deal closed on the same day that Mad Men’s fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Price was formed. Boardwalk Pictures was represented in the deal by LionTree and Venable LLP. Shamrock Capital was represented by ACF and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.