In my almost 30 years in the media and entertainment worlds, I have probably heard the phrase “Content is King” more than any other cliche (or truism) in these industries. In an increasingly fragmented and plentiful media environment for consumers today, clearly content is driving the growth and success in VOD and other areas. In most cases the only thing that distinguish one media company over the other, and their products, is HIT content.
Many people have regularly repeated the mantra of content is King, but a newly- launched company, Candle Media, backed by the Wall Street behemoth, Blackstone BX -8.3%, has put a lot of money where their mouth is.
Candle Media was recently launched by Kevin Mayer, the former Chairman of International and Direct to Consumer at Disney DIS -4.4% and his long-standing colleague, Tom Staggs, the former COO of Disney. With Blackstone’s financial backing, Candle has already announced many acquisitions of content companies, as well as some minority investments. It should be noted that Mayer founded and operated the massively successful Disney Plus streaming service and was the chief dealmaker for Disney with great content brands like Pixar, Marvel, Lucas, and others.
It is generally accepted that the streaming industry is in dire need of more and more content, and particularly unique content with a strong appeal to various sub-groups of viewers. Candle is probably the newest and biggest company to address this huge opportunity for new content production and for existing content libraries.
Candle announced a few days ago that they would make a minority investment in Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s company, Westbrook Inc. Westbrook has worked on film and TV productions like King Richard, released last year by Warner Bros, as well as Facebook talk show Red Table Talk and a number of widely seen titles on Snapchat and other digital platforms. For further analysis of the Westbrook investment, please see the paid newsletter from Forbes writer Jim Dowd.
Candle has made a number of other recent content buys with the acquisition of Faraway Road, the producer of Fauda, a hit show on Netflix, that is based on dramatic stories from the Israeli “homeland” security organization. Previously they have acquired Moonbug Entertainment which makes popular preschool shows like CoComelon, reportedly for $3 billion. They also acquired Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine for $900 million.
In an exclusive interview with Kevin Mayer, this writer asked about the future of media, particularly “traditional media” vs. user-generated content or what is increasingly called “creator content.”
Mayer, who also served as CEO of TikTok previously, fully understands the fun and entertainment of typically short form, UGC content, often devoid of any story. Mayer explained to me that Candle is focused on media that tells a story and that they believe that storytelling is the foundation of most successful content, particularly long-form content and content that drives huge audiences and revenue.
Mayer observed that “while UGC content may be very popular, it scratches a different itch than storytelling based content” which often involves a more emotional and deeper connection with the content, and is the basis of creating long-term successful franchises built around story-based content. Mayer said, “there is plenty of room for both types of content” as consumers seek out more and more forms and sources of entertainment.
Content – Long live the King!