Magazine article Variety

Can Studio71 Take over the World?

Magazine article Variety

Can Studio71 Take over the World?

Article excerpt

WHEN DISNEY LAID off thousands of content creators at its Maker Studios division in February, it sent the clearest signal yet of how troubled the so-called multichannel networks (MCNs) had become. While aggregating billions of digital video views had attracted a rash of M&A activity, like Disney's 2014 acquisition of Maker, other MCNs like Fullscreen and AwesomenessTV have since pivoted to businesses more oriented around original-content creation.

But if MCN is a dirty word, don't tell Studio7l. The company that rode the MCN wave while known as Collective Digital Studio is sticking to its business model, but with a twist it will pitch at MipTV: It's partnering with an array of overseas broadcasters to sell a combination of TV and digital inventory.

Studio71 emerged from the now defunct Hollywood management firm the Collective and began reshaping itself in 2015 when German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 bought a controlling stake. Earlier this year, France's TF1 and Italy's Mediaset took smaller stakes.

Studio7l CEO Reza Izad is hoping the initial trio of investors will be the anchor tenants of a broader consortium of partners.

"Our focus is on building an incredible network in Europe and using it as a base to do this around the world," he said.

Each of these broadcasters has the same goal in investing: offsetting the declines in ad revenue that began as younger audiences fled TV for digital. To keep those viewers and give advertisers the opportunity to buy at scale, they handed over short-form digital versions of their hit series to Studio7l, which coupled that inventory with content from the company's own roster of influencers.

Clips of a hit series like the German version of the unscripted format "The Voice," for instance, are bundled with the latest videos from Studio7l's talent stable, whether that's an American-bred global phenomenon like prankster Roman Atwood or a YouTube-based program popular in a specific territory, like Germany's "Last Man Standing."

For "The Voice," Studio7l has created extra content and placed ads there that can be sold to its TV sponsors. "Things like that used to be impossible," said Ronald Horstman, managing director of Studio71 for ProSiebenSat. …

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