Back in July, European media conglomerate ProSiebenSat.1 Group announced it was merging its Berlin-based multi-channel network Studio71 with L.A.-based Collective Digital Studio (CDS) to create a new global MCN dubbed Collective Studio71. It pledged to invest $83 million in the newly-formed entity, giving it a $240 million valuation.
CDS appeared to be going about business as usual. It made announcements that it had signed band Boyce Avenue and channel How to Make Everything to its network and that it was shooting an untitled feature film starring social media phenomenon Matthew Espinosa, all under the CDS banner. But mostly it was quiet.
Today, the announcement was made a second time, with a slight twist: Collective Digital Studio (CDS) is rebranding as Studio71 — now without “Collective” in the title — so the company can operate under one unified global banner.
“There’s already been a lot of merging,” CDS co-founder Reza Izad told VideoInk. “But I don’t know that there’s anything you’d see from the outside in, because the realities are you’re not in our CMS, you’re not part of the ad serving and all the capabilities that they brought to the table. That stuff’s not what anyone talks about.”
The companies have been working together closely since ProSiebenSat.1 acquired a 20% stake in CDS for an undisclosed amount in March 2014, sharing data, tech, and back office operations.
When they were focused primarily in the U.S. and Germany, working under separate banners was workable, Izad said, “but now that we have offices in the U.K., Canada and other places that we expect to grow into the coming, it felt appropriate to consolidate the name.”
Studio71 will continue to be jointly managed by a company board of five executives chaired by Christof Wahl (ProSiebenSat.1). Studio71 founders Sebastian Weil and Ronald Horstman will focus on their core market in Europe, with offices in Berlin and Vienna, as well as Studio71’s new U.K. office in London. CDS founders Michael Green and Izad (pictured, left to right) will remain responsible for the Americas and additional English-speaking territories.
Izad retains his CEO title with Studio71, while CDS chairman Green is now a member of the board of the new entity.
Formed in 2005 as a full-service multimedia management and production company named The Collective, it divested itself of its film and TV management arm — which repped such actors as Evangeline Lilly, John Leguizamo, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jason Isaacs and Wilmer Valderrama — when partners Sam Maydew and Jeff Golenberg departed the company in 2013. Then, in December 2014, it shuttered The Collective’s remaining music management arm — which handled Linkin Park, Slash, Godsmack, Toni Braxton, Kelly Rowland and Staind — to focus on CDS, which was launched as a division of the company in 2011.
Like many digital-first production companies once commonly known as multi-channel networks, CDS has been focusing much of its recent efforts on branded content. In 2015, it produced 1500 pieces of branded content for more than 500 campaigns with top influencers and channels — including Lilly Singh (a.k.a. IISuperwomanII), Epic Meal Time, Viner Logan Paul, Rhett and Link and Snapchatters Shonduras — which generated over 1 billion views for advertisers including Aeropostale, Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts, Estee Lauder, Nissan, Wendy’s and Verizon.
Studio71’s first global production is film “Natural Born Pranksters,” starring top YouTube pranksters VitalyzdTV, Roman Atwood and Dennis Roady, who collectively have more than 27 million subscribers and over three billion views. It will be released this spring by Lionsgate.
“I don’t think we’re going to win an Academy Award for ‘Natural Born Pranksters,’ but it’s a quality movie, there are tons of laughs it in and it will deliver what the audience is expecting,” said Izad.
“We’re very focused on trying to deliver quality content because we think it does well for all of our partners, whether they’re advertisers, content creators or platforms,” he added.