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Wow Unlimited to acquire channel from Bell Media

If approved, the Canadian channel will be rebranded as Wow and focus on children and youth programming.
June 8, 2017

Canada’s Wow Unlimited Media and Bell Media have announced a new partnership that will see the kids animation co acquire a specialty channel from the Canadian media conglomerate.

While Michael Hirsh (pictured), chairman and CEO of Wow, could not reveal which specialty channel Wow will acquire from Bell, he said that the new Wow-branded, ad-supported channel will focus on kids and youth content. Specifically, earlier programming will be aimed at kids zero to 12 years old, while programming later in the day will be geared toward a young Millennial audience.

He also said the channel will look to boost its program offering by licensing third-party content from other producers and distributors.

Wow is currently putting together its CRTC application to transfer ownership of the Category B specialty channel. If approved, Bell will be issued more than 3.4 million common voting shares in Wow, for an acquisition price of more than CDN$5.03 million (US$3.73 million).

As part of the deal, Wow will also provide children’s programming for Bell Media’s CraveTV and newly launched mobile app, SnackableTV. The two Canadian companies will also partner to develop and produce kids content across all platforms, though no further details were revealed.

At its upfront event yesterday, Bell Media president Randy Lennox said the deal allows Bell to enter into the children’s content space. “Our new partnership features Wow’s very deep library of kids and family programming across linear, Crave and Snackable TV. ” (The case may be re-entering the children’s space. Bell divested its interests in Teletoon and the Family suite of channels in 2013.)

For its part, Hirsh said that the deal helps satisfy Wow’s goal of “building the triple play – bringing linear together with OTT and mobility.”

As for other platforms, Hirsh said Wow will be a strategic partner on Bell’s SVOD and will “look to build the kids offering on Crave to be the best in the world.”

Wow Unlimited is comprised of Vancouver-based Rainmaker and Mainframe Studios, as well as New York-based Frederator Networks. Frederator is currently producing Costume Quest for Amazon Studios and Castelvania for Netflix, while Mainframe is workign on Spy Kids: Mission Critical for Netflix and ReBoot: The Guardian Code for Corus, among other projects.

From Playback.

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