Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. ("CSS Entertainment") (Nasdaq: CSSE), a growing media company building online video-on-demand ("VOD") networks that provide video content for all screens, today announced the appointment of three leading industry executives to CSS Entertainment's rapidly expanding business units.
Philippe Guelton has been named executive vice president of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, and president of VOD networks.
David Fannon has been promoted to executive vice president of distribution for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, and president of Screen Media.
George Lansbury has been named executive vice president of content strategy for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, and president of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment originals.
"The entertainment industry continues to evolve. As consumers look for new ways to find the content they enjoy, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment is uniquely positioned to benefit from this evolution," commented William J. Rouhana, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer. "We have created our own ecosystem to produce and distribute content both on a business-to-business basis, as well as directly to audiences. This structure creates logical homes for our content brands like A Plus, Popcornflix, and Truli, as well as future companies. Just as importantly, this structure will help us lower our costs to acquire customers and will allow us to operate more efficiently. Recruiting Philippe Guelton and George Lansbury to CSS Entertainment is a noteworthy achievement, speaking to the progress we have made. We are also particularly pleased to announce the promotion of David Fannon, who has proven his value to our organization. We have set the stage with the team to meaningfully accelerate our growth in the near-term."
Video-On-Demand (VOD) Networks:
As the president of VOD networks, Mr. Guelton will oversee all of CSS Entertainment's properties that monetize video content directly to audiences. This will enable the company to improve efficiency and flexibility by consolidating all VOD operations including Pivotshare, Popcornflix, and Truli, and lay the groundwork for future acquisitions.
Mr. Guelton was formerly the chief executive officer at SheKnows Media (now She Media), a mission-driven digital media company with a reach of 60+ million monthly unique visitors and over 350+ million social media fans. Penske Media Corporation acquired SheKnows Media in 2018. Previously, Mr. Guelton served as president of Thrillist Media Group, a leading men's lifestyle digital brand now part of GroupNine. Mr. Guelton was also chief operating officer at Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., where he oversaw print and digital platforms for brands such as Elle and Woman's Day. Prior to that, he led the acquisition and was the chief executive officer of Japanese publishing company Fujingaho (now part of Hearst).
"Philippe is the right leader for our online networks business, bringing a wealth of experience and a diverse history of growing and profitably managing leading media properties," said Elana Sofko, chief operating officer. "Philippe's extensive media background and business acumen will help us significantly accelerate the growth of our VOD networks business, and expand our overall media business portfolio."
"CSS Entertainment has quickly positioned itself in the VOD space with six owned and operated advertising VOD networks (Popcornflix, Popcornflix Kids, Frightpix, Popcornflix Comedy, Espanolflix, and Truli) as well as its subscription VOD technology platform Pivotshare, serving paid video subscribers across hundreds of independent channels," said Mr. Guelton. "I am very excited to join a talented team to drive growth, both organic and external, through the constantly disruptive and evolving media ecosystem."
David Fannon, currently president of Screen Media, assumes leadership of all of CSS Entertainment's distribution and content acquisition initiatives. He first joined Screen Media in 2005 and over the course of his 14-year tenure, Mr. Fannon has been intimately involved with the growth and expansion of Screen Media from a home video company to a truly digital pioneer. Screen Media acquires the rights to TV series, films and other video libraries, and monetizes these assets by licensing those rights to companies that deliver video to their own audiences. The team sells the content worldwide across a comprehensive range of video platforms, including theatrical releases, cable TV, local TV, digital platforms, DVDs and CSS Entertainment's own VOD/Online Networks.
In addition to his role as president of Screen Media, Mr. Fannon has recently been named executive vice president of distribution for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. Prior to joining Screen Media, Mr. Fannon spent nearly a decade on the legal team at A&E Television Networks where he oversaw all business affairs for the network's growing slate of original productions.
"David has steered Screen Media into impressive growth during his time with the company," noted Ms. Sofko. "He has been intimately involved with every major deal entered by Screen Media and we are confident he will lead CSS Entertainment's distribution successfully through changing landscapes."
"The Screen Media distribution business has had great success operating as part of CSS Entertainment since being acquired in 2017," said Mr. Fannon. "I look forward to working with this incredible leadership team to grow our distribution business by increasing the number and quality of TV series and films we acquire and by acquiring valuable content libraries."
CSS Entertainment has established a unique and sustainable presence creating original television series as well as short-form videos across a range of topics, funded primarily by sponsors. George Lansbury assumes leadership of this function. Mr. Lansbury brings a successful history of multi-platform programming and production, coming most recently from Fusion Media Group as senior vice president of programming, production and operations. As part of the team that launched FusionTV, Mr. Lansbury was instrumental in the expansion of Fusion Media by increasing distribution and ratings while collectively earning over 75 television and journalism awards. He was also responsible for integrating the Gizmodo Media digital brands, including The Onion, The AV Club, The Root, and Jalopnik, and developed multi-platform programming and editorial opportunities. Prior to FusionTV, Mr. Lansbury worked on original projects with YouTube and was employed by AMC Networks, Cablevision and MTV Networks.
"George brings broad, creative management to CSS Entertainment," said Ms. Sofko. "He has a proven track record and unique background in creating engaging and successful content across platforms. As the digital and linear distribution worlds combine, we'll be able to create content that works well in each of these areas."
"I'm excited to join the CSS Entertainment leadership team," said Mr. Lansbury. "CSS originals traverse between digital and linear distribution networks. They have already appeared on major networks such as A&E, The CW, CBS, TLC, Discovery Life, Discovery Family and Netflix, and their related content has reached hundreds of millions of digital video views. The changing media landscape offers a great opportunity to build more multi-platform alternatives by utilizing CSS Entertainment's core strengths of quality production and positive storytelling. I look forward to working with this talented team, our sponsors and many others to extend the brand further with relevant premium content and to drive viewers to our own networks in the future."
HomeAway®, the world leader in vacation rentals, A+E Networks and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. ("CSS Entertainment") (Nasdaq: CSSE), a growing media company today announced the second season of Vacation Rental Potential will premiere January 31st on FYI as part of the network's Home.Made enthusiast programming block. Ten new, half-hour episodes will also encore on A&E Saturday mornings beginning February 2nd.
The first season of Vacation Rental Potential premiered in December of 2017. The series is hosted by home renovation and interior design expert Holly Baker who offers insight to potential homebuyers on how to become the owner of a vacation home of their dreams through vacation rental. Each episode showcases tips and best practices for choosing the perfect vacation home, managing it effectively and creating unforgettable guest experiences for travelers. The series also features advice for impressing guests and earning more rental revenue given by HomeAway Premier Partners, experienced vacation home owners and property managers with a proven track record of success on HomeAway. The series helps homebuyers make their dream of owning a vacation home a reality.
"Vacation Rental Potential has been an amazing way to illustrate the rewarding benefits of owning a vacation rental and making it a unique and welcoming accommodation option for travelers and their families," said Judy Kay, senior vice president of strategy at HomeAway. "This season, we visit 10 new locations to highlight the popularity and investment potential of owning vacation homes in these beautiful destinations."
The second season of the show will explore popular travel destinations across the U.S., including Atlanta, Seattle, Maui, Hawaii, Palm Springs, CA and Galveston, TX.
"The renewal of Vacation Rental Potential demonstrates our success in creating entertaining content with brand partners like HomeAway," said William J. Rouhana, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer. "The series showcases our ability to seamlessly integrate exceptional storytelling with HomeAway's commitment to connecting travelers with the people and places they love."
The first season of the series was nominated for a Realscreen award in the Digital and Branded Content: Brand-Funded Content category as well as a Cynopsis award in the Reality Series [Real Estate] category.
"Vacation Rental Potential strikes the perfect balance of relatable storytelling and actionable insights towards a growing trend in real estate," said Christian Murphy, Head of Enthusiast Brands, A+E Networks. "We are incredibly proud of this original series and are thrilled to launch season two on our Home.Made enthusiast programming block."
View episodes of Vacation Rental Potential season one on www.homeaway.com/vrp.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. ("CSS Entertainment") (Nasdaq: CSSE), a growing media company building online video on-demand ("VOD") networks that provide positive and entertaining video content for all screens, today announced a new pet-themed TV series, Chicken Soup for the Soul's Animal Tales.
"Chicken Soup for the Soul has been successfully creating pet-related content and products for quite some time now," noted William J. Rouhana, chairman and chief executive officer. "From our pet-themed books to our line of premium pet food and treats, Chicken Soup for the Soul consistently encourages the well-being of animals."
Chicken Soup for the Soul's Animal Tales will consist of 15 half-hour episodes and will be sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food and American Humane, the country's first national humane organization. Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food makes a complete line of super premium dog and cat food, made from the finest natural ingredients for every stage of pet life. American Humane has sponsored content with CSS Entertainment in the past, telling the heroic and inspiring stories of the safety, welfare, and well-being of animals.
"We're excited to sponsor this great television series that will celebrate everything pets and animals add to our lives. The series will bring awareness to our mission of helping all pets eat well, whether that's by making super premium pet food that is affordable or donating millions of meals to shelter pets every year," said Chris Mitchell, chief executive officer of Chicken Soup for the Pet Food. "People are always so reassured to find out that our pet food is from the same brand that has brought inspiration and joy into millions of homes for decades through its well-loved book series. I think this television series will help even more people make that connection."
"American Humane is first to serve in promoting and nurturing the connection between people and animals," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and chief executive officer of American Humane. "We look forward to being a part of a series that showcases these bonds and tells the stories of exceptional animals and the relationships we have with them."
The series will air weekly on The CW on Saturday mornings beginning January 5, 2019 during the "One Magnificent Morning" block.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. ("CSS Entertainment") (Nasdaq: CSSE), a growing media company building online video on-demand ("VOD") networks that provide positive and entertaining video content for all screens, today announced the acquisition of APlus.com ("A Plus"), the digital media company co-founded and chaired by Ashton Kutcher for $15 million in cash and stock.
"Our historic relationship with A Plus has greatly benefited our company as we used A Plus's ability to generate video views to help attract major advertisers to sponsor our television series. As we ramp up series production, we expect to rely even more heavily on the A Plus distribution capability," said William J. Rouhana, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer. "By eliminating video view distribution costs, this acquisition is expected to result in $5 million of cost savings in 2019 and will enhance our ability to increase the commitments we make to advertisers and increase our number of original series."
Ashton Kutcher received shares for his portion of the company, increasing his stake in CSS Entertainment. Ashton Kutcher, co-founder and chairman of A Plus, commented, "The full integration of A Plus and CSS Entertainment makes perfect sense to further CSS Entertainment's content creation and distribution strategies." Mr. Kutcher continued, "I look forward to working with the team to continue to grow CSS Entertainment with A Plus as a wholly-owned part of the company."
A Plus was co-founded in 2014 by Ashton Kutcher and majority ownership was acquired by Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC ("CSS"), a parent company of CSS Entertainment in 2016. A Plus is a social and mobile-first platform that specializes in positive journalism and delivers video stories that bring people together. A Plus had 4.8 billion video views in the last year and increased social media followers by 50% to 2.9 million.
As part of the agreement, CSS Entertainment acquired all the outstanding shares of common stock of A Plus from the holders thereof, including Mr. Kutcher and CSS in consideration for approximately 350,000 shares of CSS Entertainment stock and cash. The cash portion of the transaction was offset by the elimination of approximately $3.3 million in advances owed by A Plus to the CSS Entertainment, and all open amounts under the intercompany cash management system. Any excess amount that may be due to CSS will be deferred and will be carried in the intercompany cash management system until amortized in accordance with prior practice. Additional details of the transaction are set forth in a periodic report on Form 8-K relating to the transaction that was filed on December 31, 2018.
"The net result of this transaction is the elimination of current liabilities and intercompany transactions, offsetting any cash considerations," added Mr. Rouhana. "We have streamlined our corporate structure and stand to fully benefit from the tremendous distribution reach that A Plus adds. In addition, we have deepened our longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship with Ashton Kutcher."
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. ("CSS Entertainment") (Nasdaq: CSSE), a growing media company building online video-on-demand ("VOD") networks that provide positive and entertaining video content for all screens, today announced its nomination for a Realscreen Award in the "Digital and Branded Content: Brand-Funded Content" category.
The Realscreen Awards honor the best in unscripted and non-fiction entertainment. CSS Entertainment is nominated for its series Vacation Rental Potential, which it created with HomeAway. Vacation Rental Potential features host Holly Baker, as she visits destinations across the country with prospective homeowners to help them find the vacation home of their dreams. The series initially aired on A&E and became the most watched show in the network's "home" category. The first season also aired on FYI.
"We are excited to have been nominated for a Realscreen Award for Vacation Rental Potential," said William J. Rouhana, chairman and chief executive officer of CSS Entertainment. "This series is a great example of how we are able to work with a major brand like HomeAway, to create entertaining, content that seamlessly integrates its message into the storytelling."
"As more and more consumers use ad-blockers and skip ads with DVRs, many sponsors are turning to inventive ways to reach audiences. This nomination is a strong indicator that we are an excellent partner for sponsors looking to expand beyond traditional advertising methods to convey their brand messaging," noted Rouhana.
CSS Entertainment and HomeAway are currently in production for a second season of the series.
The 2019 Realscreen Awards will take place at Realscreen Summit on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel.