To lead the charge, Red Arrow has nabbed two senior execs from fellow international media co Fremantle as co-founders — Gayle Gilman, who will serve as Chief Executive Officer and Jason Ziemianski, as Chief Revenue Officer.
Gilman and Ziemianski identify Ripple Entertainment as a digital studio that will not just produce series for digital distribution but launch standalone brands and networks that tap Red Arrow’s existing IP as well as shop for new ideas to incubate.
The goal is to launch four to six brands or networks in the next 24 months, though the duo declined to comment on the exact genres that would be of focus first. One could venture that popular categories like comedy, fashion/beauty/lifestyle and pop culture could be among the first verticals launched given how successful they have been categorically across media formats, and in digital.
Gilman and Ziemianski are no strangers to the strategy. With a background in traditional entertainment, Gilman was brought on to run digital video for Fremantle Media North America and set up its digital studio, TinyRiot!. Under her tenure, TinyRiot! built and ran food-centric property “Munchies” in partnership with Vice. She also, with Ziemanski, ran and relaunched The Pet Collective, which recently merged with Jukin Media.
At Big Frame, Ziemianski led the teams that stood up three vertical brands — Forefront, an urban brand, Wonderly, targeted at the geeky girls, and Polished, a beauty and fashion brand.
“After working together at Tiny Riot, we realized that, although we came to the online video business from different disciplines, we shared many of the same creative sensibilities. That struck us as an opportunity to forge a great partnership,” said Gilman.
Ripple’s parent company, Red Arrow, has built a solid international business from owning specialized entertainment production companies equipped to produce and distribute linear programming. It currently operates a stable of entertainment production companies in Europe and the US including Mark Burnett’s United Artists Media Groups, but as the market has started leaning more in favor of digital, the company saw a clear need to expand the skillset and expertise there.
According to Red Arrow CEO Jan Frouman, the decision to launch Ripple Entertainment is an undertaking with the highest level of internal corporate endorsement. “[Ripple] has been a topic discussed to the highlest levels, even at Prosieben with a real commitment to build this over next few years including investment ambition and investment requirements.”
Industry sources familiar with building and launching standalone brands like this indicate that a single brand launch is roughly a $2–5 million commitment over three years, minimum. Realistically, Ripple Entertainment is an endeavor banking in the tens of millions.
On the financials, Frouman added: “It’s a multiyear plan with a significant investment commitment.” This is a startup and a startup has estimated capital that needs to be deployed. Both Jason andn Gayle spent considerable time at a competing production group. They know what it takes to make this thing real.”
Television and digital strategy are certainly hand in hand these days and launches like Ripple have become on-trend for international companies looking to set a stake in the U.S. market.
“Jan and his team, combined with the amazing group of companies they’ve assembled, create a unique opportunity to lay claim to a meaningful piece of the digital video landscape,” said Ziemianski. “We look forward to growing an amazing portfolio of media brands and helping the entire Red Arrow family reach new heights.”