Lionsgate buys stake in Pilgrim Studios

Under the terms of Lionsgate's "strategic investment" in Pilgrim, the Ghost Hunters producer will still have "full creative autonomy" under its current management team, headed by founder Craig Piligian (pictured).
November 12, 2015

Lionsgate has entered into what it calls a “strategic investment” for a stake in North Hollywood-based indie prodco Pilgrim Studios.

While exact terms of the deal or the size of the stake have not been officially disclosed, the studio has reportedly taken a majority stake in Pilgrim, headed by Craig Piligian (pictured) and behind such unscripted properties as Syfy’s Ghost Hunters, National Geographic Channel’s Wicked Tuna, Discovery Channel’s Fast ‘n’ Loud, and Fox Sports 1′s The Ultimate Fighter.

Lionsgate says that under the terms of the deal, Pilgrim, founded in 1997, will still enjoy “full creative autonomy under its current management team headed by founder and chief executive officer Craig Piligian.”

“We’re delighted to be in business with Craig Piligian and his team, who have achieved remarkable success building Pilgrim into a global leader in unscripted content with a valuable portfolio of long-running returning series and reality brands,” said Lionsgate chief executive officer Jon Feltheimer in a statement. “This transaction scales and diversifies our television business by aligning Pilgrim, the market leader in non-fiction programming, with our robust scripted production operations as well as our premier syndication business operating under the Debmar-Mercury banner.”

“We’re thrilled to become part of the Lionsgate family and align ourselves with Jon Feltheimer, Kevin Beggs and the rest of an incredible team that has built a world-class organization,” said Piligian. “This deal creates tremendous synergies between our companies, including the benefits of our respective relationships in the industry and the strength of Lionsgate’s worldwide distribution infrastructure; we’re very excited to work together to accelerate the next phase of our growth.”

In the recent wave of acquisitions, Pilgrim had been one of the largest “true indies” remaining on the U.S. unscripted production scene. Craig Piligian was inducted into the Realscreen Awards Hall of Fame last June.

Earlier this week, Lionsgate announced that Discovery and Liberty Global had each purchased 3.4% stakes in the studio. Pilgrim, meanwhile, recently launched a digital platform for original content, 1620 Media.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.