Entertainment Studios, Inc. is an American media and entertainment company based in Los Angeles. Owned and founded in 1993 by African-American comedian Byron Allen, the company was initially involved in the production and distribution of first-run television series for U.S. television syndication. Under the Entertainment Studios Networks division, it also operates a group of digital cable and satellite channels, which broadcast a mix of original programs and the company's syndicated content.
|Formerly||CF Entertainment (1993–2003)|
|Byron Allen (chairman, CEO)|
|Total assets||$1 billion (2017)|
|Owner||Allen Media Group|
Number of employees
|Footnotes / references|
In the late 2010s, the company made several major expansions to its operations; including entering the film distribution market; acquiring The Weather Channel from NBCUniversal and Bain Capital; partnering with Sinclair Broadcast Group to operate the regional sports network chain, Bally's Sports, through Diamond Sports Group; and its acquisition of television stations from another minority-owned media group, Bayou City Broadcasting.
Entertainment Studios was founded in 1993 as CF Entertainment by Byron Allen. The company was initially focused on producing low-cost, syndicated non-fiction programming, including interview series and court shows (largely scripted from actual testimony). Allen serves as host for some of these programs. In December 2003, CF became Entertainment Studios.
Entertainment Studios greenlit its first film and stage projects in December 2011, when it acquired the rights to develop a biographical film and theatrical play on the life of Sammy Davis, Jr. from Davis' daughter with actor/singer, Tracey Davis.
The company ventured into scripted programming in 2012, with the third-quarter launch of the sitcoms Mr. Box Office and The First Family. Both are set for 104 episodes over two years under a model of accelerated production similar to Debmar-Mercury's 10-90 Model. The two half hour shows were picked up as a two-hour weekend primetime programming block with two episodes of each show back to back by Tribune, Weigel and CBS Television Station groups. The company launched its eighth cable channel and first ad-supported service, Justice Central.TV, on December 10, 2012.
In October 2015, Entertainment Studios acquired Freestyle Releasing for an undisclosed amount "said to be sealed for high-eight figures". Freestyle also had an output deal with Netflix. The Freestyle purchase was used to bolster an expansion into film distribution, via its new Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures division. Its first release, 47 Meters Down, took in $44 million in box office revenue.
Across 2015, the company separately sued AT&T, Comcast and Charter Communications for racial discrimination in being biased against minority run entertainment companies in not carrying its cable channels. AT&T settled in December with the addition of 7 of Entertainment Studios' channels added to AT&T's DirecTV line up. Entertainment Studios added similar suits against Charter and the FCC. The Comcast case, though initially dismissed at the district court, was allowed to go forward by the Ninth Circuit; Comcast was able to successfully petition the Supreme Court to hear its case in Comcast v. National Association of African-American-Owned Media in November 2019.
In June 2016, Entertainment Studios acquired TheGrio, a news website focusing on stories of interest to African Americans. In mid-September 2017, the company announced plans to launch an over the top sports streaming service known as Sports.tv.
On March 22, 2018, Entertainment Studios announced its intent to acquire The Weather Channel's television assets from an NBCUniversal/Bain Capital/Blackstone Group partnership. The actual value was undisclosed, but was reported to be around $300 million; the channel's non-television assets, which were separately sold to IBM two years prior, were not included in the sale.
In September 2018, Entertainment Studios announced that it had arranged $500 million worth of credit facilities through Deutsche Bank Securities, Jefferies Financial Group, Brightwood Capital Advisors and Comerica. Allen explained that these funds were to be used for further "large-scale" acquisitions, productions, and other general expenses. In an interview with Variety, Allen stated that he was "not a seller", and that he was "one or two acquisitions away from being a fairly large company". On May 3, 2019, it was announced that, under the subsidiary Diamond Sports Group, Entertainment Studios would be an equity and content partner in Sinclair Broadcast Group's acquisition of Fox Sports Networks (now known as Bally Sports).
On May 6, 2019, Entertainment Studios announced that it would expand into television station ownership by acquiring the stations of Bayou City Broadcasting for $165 million, including Evansville, Indiana's WEVV-TV and WEEV-LD, and Lafayette, Louisiana's KADN-TV and KLAF-LD. The stations will operate under the new unit, Allen Media Broadcasting. The sale was completed on July 31, 2019. On October 1, 2019, Allen Media Group agreed to purchase 11 stations from USA Television for $290 million. The sale of the Heartland stations was approved by the FCC on November 22, 2019, and it was completed on February 11, 2020. On August 17, 2020, the company announced its purchase of Hawaii ABC affiliate KITV from SJL Broadcasting for $30 million.
In June 2020, Comcast agreed to carry Entertainment Studios' Comedy.TV, JusticeCentral.TV, Recipe.TV, and The Weather Channel, and to retransmission consent for the Allen Media Broadcasting television stations, as part of a settlement of the Supreme Court racial discrimination lawsuit.
In May 2021, Allen sued fast food chain McDonald's for $10 billion, alleging that the company "intentionally discriminated against Entertainment Studios and Weather Group through a pattern of racial stereotyping and refusals to contract" for advertising across its properties.
Television series distributed by Entertainment Studios
- America's Court with Judge Ross
- Justice for All with Judge Cristina Pérez
- Justice with Judge Mablean
- Supreme Justice with Judge Karen
- The Verdict with Judge Hatchett
- We the People With Gloria Allred (2011-2012)
- The First Family (September 2012–April 25, 2015) syndicated (April 19, 2013– ) BET Her
- Mr. Box Office (September 2012–April 25, 2015) syndicated (April 19, 2013– ) BET Her
- Comedy Jam
- Feel the Beat
- Happy Holidays America
- We Have a Dream
Talk and magazine series
- Beautiful Homes & Great Estates
- Career Day
- Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen
- Designers, Fashions & Runways
- Entertainers with Byron Allen
- Global Business People
- The Gossip Queens
- Latin Lifestyles
- Kickin' It with Byron Allen
- Urban Style
- The Writer's Hot List
- The Young Icons
- The American Athlete
- The World's Funniest Weather
Entertainment Studios Networks
Cable and Digital
- Justice Central, launched December 10, 2012 on AT&T U-verse's family tier which is also its first advertising support only channel.
Allen Media Broadcasting
Allen Media Broadcasting, LLC is an American television station operating company that is owned by Entertainment Studios.
On May 6, 2019, Entertainment Studios announced that it would expand into television station ownership by acquiring the stations of Bayou City Broadcasting for $165 million, including Evansville, Indiana's WEVV-TV and WEEV-LD, and Lafayette, Louisiana's KADN-TV and KLAF-LD. The stations will operate under the new division Allen Media Broadcasting. Allen Media made an offer for Tegna TV station group as the third known bidder.
On April 29, 2021, it was announced that Allen Media would purchase 10 stations in seven markets from Gray Television for $380 million, from a divestiture of stations owned by Quincy Media, as a condition of Gray's purchase of Quincy. These are stations where Gray already owned a station, and are mostly in the Upper Midwest. In a separate deal with Gray, Allen will acquire WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan while Gray retains competing WNEM-TV through its merger with Meredith Corporation's local news division.
Stations are arranged in alphabetical order by state and city of license.
- (##) - Indicates stations that were previously owned by Bayou City Broadcasting, prior to its acquisition by Allen Media Group in 2019.
- (§§) - Indicates stations that were previously owned by Heartland Media, prior to its acquisition by Allen Media Group in 2020.
|City of license / Market||Station||Channel
|Owned since||Network affiliation|
|Huntsville, Alabama||WAAY-TV §§||31 (17)||2020||ABC|
|Chico - Redding, California||KHSL-TV §§||12 (36)||2020|
(Satellite of KITV)
|Honolulu, Hawaii||KITV||4 (20)||2021|
(Satellite of KITV)
|Evansville, Indiana||WEVV-TV ##||44 (28)||2015|
(Repeater of WEVV-DT2)
|Fort Wayne, Indiana||WFFT-TV §§||55 (20)||2020||Fox|
|Terre Haute, Indiana||WTHI-TV §§||10 (10)||2020|
|West Lafayette, Indiana||WLFI-TV §§||18 (11)||2020|
|Mason City, Iowa – Rochester, Minnesota||KIMT §§||3 (24)||2020|
|Lafayette, Louisiana||KADN-TV ##||15 (16)||2019|
|KLAF-LD ##||46 (14)||2019||NBC|
|Tupelo - Columbus, Mississippi||WTVA §§||9 (11)||2020|
|Eugene, Oregon||KEZI §§||9 (9)||2020||ABC|
|Medford – Klamath Falls, Oregon||KDRV §§||12 (12)||2020||ABC|
(Satellite of KDRV)
- (1) Owned by Maxair Media, LLC., Allen Media operates the station under a shared services agreement (SSA).
- (2) Owned by Coastal Television Broadcasting Company LLC., Allen Media operates the station under a shared services agreement.
- Light TV, a network focusing on family-oriented and faith-based entertainment.
- This TV, a network that primarily focuses on movies from the MGM library.
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
In 2016, Entertainment Studios began to make major expansions into film distribution; at the Sundance Film Festival, the company made a surprise $20 million bid for The Birth of a Nation, losing to Fox Searchlight. In July 2016, Entertainment Studios signed a multi-year home video and on-demand distribution deal with Anchor Bay Entertainment, covering future theatrical releases by the company. The studio acquired its first film later that month, with the North American rights to 47 Meters Down from Dimension Films. At the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, Entertainment Studios also bought Chappaquiddick, Replicas, and Hostiles. Entertainment Studios aimed to distribute at least 18 films in 2018. In January 2018, on his film distribution model, Allen stated:
We're chasing the studio crumbs. They don't want movies that do $40 million to $60 million. We totally will be good with those numbers, and that is what we're pursuing. Our thing is we are really big on slow roll-outs and small releases. Our philosophy — we believe in wide releases. We like to have movies that are 1,500-4,000 screens and we are chasing what the studios don't want. They're chasing much bigger. And we're going to take their crumbs and make a gourmet meal. And then eventually we'll move on to chasing more than their crumbs. But today we're chasing the crumbs.
|Year||Release Date||Film title||Director||Gross||Ref|
|2017||June 16, 2017||47 Meters Down||Johannes Roberts||$44.3 million|||
|September 22, 2017||Friend Request||Simon Verhoeven||$3.7 million|||
|December 22, 2017||Hostiles||Scott Cooper||$40.9 million|||
|2018||March 9, 2018||The Hurricane Heist||Rob Cohen||$15.8 million|||
|April 6, 2018||Chappaquiddick||John Curran||$18 million|||
|2019||January 11, 2019||Replicas||Jeffrey Nachmanoff||$8.1 million|||
|August 16, 2019||47 Meters Down: Uncaged||Johannes Roberts||$22.2 million|||
|September 20, 2019||The Wedding Year||Robert Luketic|||
|November 1, 2019||Arctic Dogs||Aaron Woodley||$3.6 million|||
Diamond Sports Group
A subsidiary of the Sinclair Broadcast Group operated in partnership with Entertainment Studios, Diamond Sports Group is the mass media company that operates Bally Sports, a group of regional sports networks formerly known as the Fox Sports Networks. The company was founded in 2019 to acquire the networks from The Walt Disney Company, which was required to sell the chain as part of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
- Siegel, Tatiana (December 20, 2017). "Byron Allen on "Chasing Studio Crumbs," Weinstein's Future and Christian Bale's 'Hostiles'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
- Andreeva, Nellie; Fleming, Mike (March 22, 2018). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Acquires The Weather Channel TV Network For $300 Million". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
- Albiniak, Paige (March 22, 2018). "Byron Allen Acquires The Weather Group in $300 Million Deal". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
- Busch, Anita (October 22, 2015). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Acquires Indie Freestyle Releasing". Deadline. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Albiniak, Paige (December 12, 2003). "CF Entertainment Gets New Name". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
- Marich, Robert (January 25, 2019). "Byron Allen Is Still 'Very Acquisitive' After Transformative Year". Variety. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
- Block, Alex (December 8, 2011). "Sammy Davis Jr. Biopic, Stage Show Planned". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (May 21, 2012). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Clears Syndicated Sitcom Block For Fall '12 Launch". Deadline. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Andreeva, Nellie (May 3, 2012). "Comedy Series Starring Bill Bellamy Eying 100-Episode Order, Fall Launch". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Block, Alex Ben (December 10, 2012). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Launches Legal Digital Network". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Donnelly, Matt; Waxman, Sharon (January 26, 2016). "Inside Sundance Bidding War for 'Birth of a Nation'". The Wrap. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Fleming, Mike (January 5, 2018). "'Hostiles' Distributor Byron Allen, On Growing A Movie Company In Difficult Times For Indies". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
- Littleton, Cynthia (January 28, 2016). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Files $10 Billion Discrimination Lawsuit Against Charter Communications, FCC". Variety. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Evans, Greg (June 15, 2016). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Acquires TheGrio, African-American Focused Digital News Platform". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
- Lafayette, Jon (September 19, 2017). "Entertainment Studios to Launch Streaming OTT Sports Platform". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Fleming, Mike (September 4, 2018). "Byron Allen Announces $500M In Credit Facility For Entertainment Studios Expansion". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
- Littleton, Cynthia (May 3, 2019). "Sinclair Clinches Disney-Regional Sports Networks Deal, Byron Allen Joins as Partner". Variety. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
- Littleton, Cynthia (May 6, 2019). "Byron Allen Expands Into Broadcasting, Buys 4 TV Stations for $165 Million". Variety. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- Mills, Wes (July 31, 2019). "FCC Approves Evansville TV Station Sale". Inside Indiana Business. Grow INdiana Media Ventures, LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- Lafayette, Jon (October 1, 2019). "Allen's Entertainment Studios Buying USA Stations for $290M". Broadcasting & Cable. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- "Notice of Consent to Transfer of Control", CDBS Public Access, Federal Communications Commission, 22 November 2019, Retrieved 27 November 2019.
- Bennett, Anita (February 11, 2020). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Acquires 11 Local TV Stations For $305 Million". Deadline. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
- Goldsmith, Jill (August 17, 2020). "Byron Allen's AMG Buys Honolulu ABC Affiliate For $30 Million". Deadline. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
- Littleton, Cynthia (June 11, 2020). "Byron Allen and Comcast Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit, Set Carriage Deal for 3 Channels". Variety. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- Stempel, Jonathan (May 21, 2021). "McDonald's is sued for $10 billion for alleged bias against Black-owned media". Reuters. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
- Guzman, Joseph (May 22, 2021). "Media mogul Byron Allen sues McDonald's for $10 billion over racial allegations". TheHill. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
- "Entertainment Studios Orders 130 More Episodes For Each Of Its Five Court Shows". Deadline Hollywood. September 26, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
- Block, Alex (April 4, 2013). "BET Networks Nabs Two Sitcoms in Multimillion-Dollar Reverse-Syndication Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Busch, Anita (July 14, 2016). "Anchor Bay And Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Join In Multi-Year Deal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
- Littleton, Cynthia (March 12, 2020). "Byron Allen Makes Acquisition Offer for Tegna Station Group". Variety. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
- Hipes, Patrick (April 29, 2021). "Byron Allen's Allen Media Acquires 7 Gray TV Stations For $380M". Deadline. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
- "Allen Media Group Pays $70M To Acquire Gray Television's WJRT, An ABC Affiliate In Michigan". MSN Entertainment. July 14, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- "Allen Media Group Buys Two Networks From MGM," from Deadline, 10/28/2020
- McNary, Dave (July 25, 2016). "Mandy Moore's Shark Tale '47 Meters Down' Bought From Weinsteins". Variety. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Fleming, Mike (October 3, 2017). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Hostiles; Christian Bale-Starrer Gets Oscar Season Berth". Deadline. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "Entertainment Studios All Time Box Office Results". BoxOfficeMojo.com. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- Busch, Anita (January 14, 2016). "Freestyle Releasing Gets 'Friend Request'". Deadline. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Ramos, Dino-Day (July 17, 2017). "Rob Cohen's 'The Hurricane Heist' Acquired By Entertainment Studios". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Busch, Anita; Fleming, Mike (September 8, 2017). "Ted Kennedy Scandal Film 'Chappaquiddick' Lands $20M Commitment From Byron Allen At Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Fleming, Mike (September 8, 2017). "Keanu Reeves' 'Replicas' First Big Toronto Deal: Byron Allen Pays $4 Million". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Busch, Anita (October 26, 2017). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Will Distribute Indie Sequel '48 Meters Down'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
- Billington, Alex (August 28, 2019). "Sarah Hyland in First Trailer for Romantic Comedy 'The Wedding Year'". First Showing. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- Wiseman, Andreas (December 3, 2018). "Byron Allen's ESMP Takes On U.S. Distribution Of Animation 'Arctic Dogs' Voiced By Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
- Mirabella, Lorraine (May 7, 2019). "Sinclair stock soars over sports deal". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
- Littleton, Cynthia (May 3, 2019). "Sinclair Clinches Disney-Regional Sports Networks Deal, Byron Allen Joins as Partner". Variety. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
- Hayes, Dade (August 23, 2019). "Disney, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Byron Allen Close Regional Sports Network Deal". Deadline. Retrieved September 22, 2020.