NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Dec 6, 2012) - Hearst Corporation and NorthSouth Productions, one of America's largest independent producers of non-scripted television programming, today announced a joint venture whereby Hearst will acquire 50% of the company. The announcement was made by Frank A. Bennack, Jr., CEO of Hearst Corporation, and Charlie DeBevoise and Mark Hickman, both founders and partners of NorthSouth Productions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The joint venture will be part of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, operated by Scott Sassa, president, which includes ownership in leading cable networks, including A&E, HISTORY and ESPN; a joint venture with Mark Burnett, One Three Media; King Features Syndicate; and an investment in social gaming company SpookyCool, among other holdings.
NorthSouth Productions has been at the forefront of factual entertainment for over a decade. Among their current hit series include Impractical Jokers, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids.
Founded by Executive Producers DeBevoise and Hickman in 2000, the company has corporate offices in New York City and Knoxville, Tenn., and production facilities in Atlanta and Los Angeles. NorthSouth's client list includes nearly every major cable outlet, including A&E, HISTORY, TLC, Discovery, truTV, Food Network, Sundance, Speed and Travel Channel.
"This partnership gives us a significantly stronger presence in cable network production, which is experiencing a steady growth in overall demand," Bennack said. "When we first partnered with Mark Burnett in 2011 and entered television production, we had a strategic vision of building a full-service 21st century production company -- NorthSouth is an important piece in furthering this effort."
"NorthSouth is right at the center of the burgeoning television 'reality comedy' category which is attracting both men and women of all demographics across a number of important and diverse networks," Sassa said. "Charlie and Mark have created a growing, all-purpose production company with demonstrated range across various genres. Their company also complements our joint venture with Mark Burnett in One Three Media, which currently has the No. 1 show in demographics three nights a week: The Voice on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Shark Tank on Fridays. All in, this is a great investment for us."
"Mark and I wanted a partnership that would accelerate the growth we've enjoyed over the past few years," DeBevoise said. "The Hearst team has the experience to do that."
"It's amazing to be part of a company that has such a rich history, but it was Hearst's vision for the future that sold us," Hickman said. "Frank, Scott and the Hearst leadership team have an incredible understanding of our industry. That insight and experience is going to be a tremendous asset for NorthSouth to call upon."
Hidden camera comedy series Impractical Jokers is set to debut December 13 with back-to-back episodes at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET on truTV. In this original series, four childhood buddies, Brian "Q" Quinn, James "Murr" Murray, Joe Gatto and Sal Vulcano have challenged each other to outrageous public dares and now, to find out who is the best, they will compete at a new level via hidden camera.
The fifth season of TLC's flagship series Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta will debut in the first quarter of 2013. Its spinoff hit, Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids, is in production on season four. Both shows have seen ratings growth following the recent broadcast of a NorthSouth documentary about cast member Lori Allen's brave and ultimately successful battle with breast cancer.
The first season of Lovetown, a co-production with the BBC, just wrapped for OWN. New series in the wings include Lifetime's Double Divas that launches in January and a five-hour series of documentaries for Military Channel called Bullet Points. NorthSouth's Canadian based pilot, Bada Bling Bridal, received high marks for its November debut and two new pilots for Vegas Bridal will air back to back on Dec. 28 on TLC.
About NorthSouth Productions
NorthSouth has been a mainstay in the cable industry for over a decade. Founded by Mark Hickman and Charlie DeBevoise in 2000, the company has a reputation for its ability to deliver in a range of genres. NorthSouth credits include competition-elimination, documentaries, adventure travel, home improvement and docu-comedy formats. The company has over 160 full time and contracted employees between its four offices. In 2010, EVP of Development Blaine Hopkins was made a partner and continues to lead its development staff in New York and Knoxville.
About Hearst Corporation
Celebrating its 125th anniversary, Hearst Corporation is one of the nation's largest diversified media and information companies. Its major interests include ownership of 15 daily and 36 weekly newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and Albany Times Union; hundreds of magazines around the world, including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, ELLE and O, The Oprah Magazine; 29 television stations, which reach a combined 18 percent of U.S. viewers; ownership in leading cable networks, including Lifetime, A&E, HISTORY and ESPN; significant holdings in the automotive, electronic and medical/pharmaceutical industries; a 50 percent stake in the global ratings agency Fitch Group; Internet and marketing services businesses; television production; newspaper features distribution; and real estate. Follow us on Twitter @HearstCorp.