Boat Rocker acquires Proper Television, Proper Rights

The business that high-profile producer Guy O’Sullivan built and fostered for 13 years will have new life going forward, as news broke Monday (September 25) that Boat Rocker Media has ...
September 25, 2017

The business that high-profile producer Guy O’Sullivan built and fostered for 13 years will have new life going forward, as news broke Monday (September 25) that Boat Rocker Media has acquired the company.

Effective immediately, the deal includes the assets of both Proper Television, the unscripted producer behind series such as MasterChef Canada, and Proper Rights, the company’s distribution arm. A former BBC exec, O’Sullivan founded the company in 2004, building it into one of Canada’s leading unscripted producers before passing away suddenly this spring. He was 49 years old.

Proper Television will operate as an independent entity within Boat Rocker Media, according to a release, and will be led by two senior execs, Lesia Capone and Cathie James. Capone, who was formerly the VP of production, and James, formerly VP and creative director, become co-presidents. The rights business, which includes 2,200 half-hours of content, will be folded into Boat Rocker’s existing distribution arm. According to Boat Rocker CEO John Young, jobs will be minimally affected: “We are delighted that we were able to keep on almost the entire staff of Proper,” he told realscreen sister publication Playback Daily.

In his statement, Young cited the global, multiplatform opportunity in the unscripted space as the driver behind the acquisition, and emphasized the continuance of Proper’s culture. “Continuing the legacy of what Proper’s founder and president Guy O’Sullivan built over the last decade and supporting the incredible work of the entire Proper team is at the heart of Boat Rocker’s approach to this new relationship,” he said.

“In the wake of Guy’s passing, we have been deeply moved and motivated by the support of the Canadian and International production community,” added Capone and James, “and now Boat Rocker is providing an opportunity to expand Guy’s legacy with their extraordinary vision and support. We’re honored and excited to become part of this dynamic and forward-looking company.”

The deal arrives in addition to BRM’s still-new Crooked Horse unscripted division (launched this year and behind Late Nite Eats on Scripps’ The Cooking Channel, premiering Sept. 28) as well as its scripted and youth/animation arms; prior to launching Crooked Horse, Boat Rocker’s Temple Street executed a number of successful unscripted series, including original format Recipe to Riches in 2011, and U.S. format adaptation Say Yes to the Dress Canada in 2015.

Boat Rocker’s diversification strategy has been turned up to 11 since it formed in 2016 out of the Temple Street Productions business, most prominently in the animation space, where it has made several large-scale acquisitions. Boat Rocker’s move to acquire another company had been anticipated by the Canadian industry, which has seen a surge of consolidation recently.

Proper has been one of Canada’s most successful importers of lifestyle formats, bringing MasterChef to Canada (which is now heading into season five on CTV), as well as Canada’s Worst Driver, the long-running hit for Discovery Canada and most recently, the Great Canadian Baking Show, a Canadian adaptation of the popular British format The Great British Bake Off set to debut Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. on CBC. Other format titles in its portfolio include Come Dine With Me Canada and Storage Wars Canada, while originals include Vegas Rat Rods (pictured) and True North Calling.

(From Playback Daily)

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