In 1993, comedian, producer, media mogul, and philanthropist Byron Allen founded his Los Angeles-based global media company, Entertainment Studios. The company has additional offices in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Raleigh. Allen now owns one of the largest cable network portfolios in the industry, featuring ten, 24-hour HD television networks (THE WEATHER CHANNEL, COMEDY.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, JUSTICECENTRAL.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, PETS.TV, RECIPE.TV, LOCAL NOW, and THE WEATHER CHANNEL EN ESPAÑOL). The company continues to produce and distributing Emmy Award-winning and nominated shows, while also selling advertising for 67 broadcast and cable television programs. Entertainment Studios has one of the largest libraries of family and advertiser-friendly lifestyle content in the world.
Further distinguishing Entertainment Studios is its status as the first African-American owned multi-platform media studio producing and distributing wide-release motion pictures and content for all platforms. In 2015, Allen purchased Freestyle Releasing, now called Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, a full-service theatrical movie distribution company. Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN. In 2018, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures released the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES and the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK. In 2019 ESMP released 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED, the very successful second film in the potential franchise. To date, 47MD: UNCAGED has earned nearly $47M across all distribution platforms. The digital distribution unit of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films.
In 2016, Entertainment Studios purchased TheGrio, a digital, video-centric news platform devoted to providing compelling entertainment, news and lifestyle content for African-Americans TheGrio features aggregated and original video packages, news articles, and blogs on topics that include breaking news, politics, health, business, and entertainment and remains focused on curating engaging digital content and currently has more than 20 million annual visitors.
In the spring of 2018, Byron Allen acquired the #1 weather news television network, The Weather Channel. In 2018, The Weather Channel was named the 2018 Harris Poll EquiTrend TV News Brand for the eighth consecutive year. It also deployed cutting-edge storytelling with its IMR (Immersive Mixed Reality) technology which draws viewers into detailed and visually stunning weather and climate events.
In 2019, Byron Allen announced two forward-thinking initiatives: 1) the launch of The Weather Channel en Español which is slated for launch in 2020, and 2) an exclusive deal with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s short-form digital platform, QUIBI. This teaming will bring The Weather Channel to Quibi’s DAILY ESSENTIALS for weather-related programming. Also in late Q4, 2019, Allen’s technical team began rolling out LOCAL NOW, Entertainment Studios’ STREAMING APP. This OTT and MOBILE APP will build revenue streams fed from across Byron Allen’s many content business lines, building stronger engagement with a wider field of audience demographics. Local Now is powered by The Weather Channel technology which was a defining factor that attracted Allen and his executive team when they acquired the all-American brand in March of 2018.
In 2019, Byron Allen formed ALLEN MEDIA BROADCASTING and began building the broadcast station group which includes four, “BIG 4” stations. In February 2020, Allen Media Broadcasting acquired an additional 11 stations from the purchase of USA TELEVISION. The USA TV portfolio acquisition follows several recent transformative transactions executed by Byron Allen. In August 2019, Mr. Allen personally partnered with Sinclair Broadcast Group to acquire 21 Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) from Walt Disney/FOX Corporation for $10.6 billion. In July 2019, Byron Allen acquired Bayou City Broadcasting, which included 4 television stations.
In August 2020, Allen Media Broadcasting added Honolulu ABC affiliate KITV, boosting his Allen Media Group’s owned and operated big-four network affiliates to 16 stations in 12 markets.
As with other major television stations in Hawaii, KITV-ABC 4 also operates multiple satellite stations and translators to rebroadcast its programming outside of metropolitan Honolulu – including KHVO-ABC 13 in Hilo and KMAU-ABC 12 in Wailuku – to cover all of the Hawaiian islands. The KITV portfolio also includes carriage of digital cable networks MeTV, Hawaii TV, Start TV and Heroes & Icons, as well as a Washington, D.C. news bureau and correspondent.
“Entertainment Studios will continue to aggressively look for other opportunities to grow our global media company through strategic acquisitions”, says Mr. Allen, who was inducted into Broadcasting and Cable’s, BROADCAST HALL of FAME in late October 2019.
Planned for 2021 launch, Byron Allen will debut The Weather Channel Español, the first 24 hour Spanish language weather service.