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Entertainment One Ltd., commonly abbreviated as eOne (formerly known as Records on Wheels Limited, ROW Entertainment, and E1 Entertainment), is a Canadian multinational entertainment company that currently serves as the content production and distribution subsidiary of American toy manufacturer Hasbro. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the company is primarily involved in the acquisition, distribution, and production of films, music, and television series. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange until it was acquired by Hasbro on December 30, 2019.
The company has its origins in the music distributor Records on Wheels (which was established in 1970), and the music retail chain CD Plus. The chain was in the process of acquiring other companies to bolster its wholesale operations in music and home video, leading to its purchase of ROW in 2001. Its vice president of operations, Darren Throop, had joined the company after CD Plus acquired his Halifax-based record store chain Urban Sound Exchange. The combined company later became known as ROW Entertainment, with Throop as president and CEO. The company listed itself on the Toronto Stock Exchange as an income trust, meaning that its taxes were paid by its shareholders, rather than the company itself.
Afterward, ROW began to diversify its operations into content ownership. In June 2005, it acquired the American independent music distributor and home entertainment publisher Koch Entertainment.
In 2007, the company accepted a $188 million public equity takeover by Marwyn Investment Management to fund its expansion; the company was listed on London's Alternative Investment Market as Entertainment One Ltd.
In 2007, Entertainment One acquired Montreal-based film distributor Seville Pictures and UK distributor Contender Entertainment Group. The same year, the company secured its first film output agreement with Summit Entertainment, handling distribution in Canada and the United Kingdom, and acquired British film distributor Contender Entertainment. Acquisitions continued in 2008 with the purchase of the Benelux distributor RCV Entertainment. The same year, eOne acquired the television studios Blueprint and Barna-Alper, and international television distributor Oasis International. Throop stated that the company was attempting to "replicate the success of Alliance Atlantis", with a focus on diversifying into production alongside distribution. Also in 2008, the company listed itself on the London Stock Exchange.
On January 5, 2015, eOne acquired a 51% stake in Mark Gordon's self-named studio, with an option to acquire the remainder at a later date. The purchase was part of an effort by eOne to bolster its presence in the United States. On September 9, 2015, eOne revived the Momentum Pictures brand (which was previously used by Alliance UK) and announced that it had entered into a multi-picture deal with Orion Pictures to jointly acquire films for "specialized theatrical releases" in the U.S., and targeted international releases, focusing on ancillary and digital distribution.
On January 7, 2016, eOne made a strategic investment in Sierra Pictures and on January 20, 2016, the company acquired Dualtone Music Group. On March 8, 2016, eOne the acquired music recording, publishing and artist management company Last Gang, and announced that its founder Chris Taylor would join the company as president of music. In 2016, eOne acquired a majority stake in unscripted production company Renegade 83.
On August 10, 2016, eOne rejected an offer to be acquired by British television broadcaster ITV plc for £1 billion ($1.3 billion US). eOne considered the offer to be "fundamentally undervalued".
On August 17, 2016, eOne announced that it would acquire Secret Location outright for an undisclosed amount. On September 12, 2016, eOne announced its acquisition of UK-based music management company Hardlivings. That same year, eOne acquired music management company Nerve.
In 2016, eOne entered into an agreement with Ole (now Anthem Entertainment) to administer its catalogue.
eOne consolidated its film and television studios into a single structure in 2017, as part of an effort to reposition its operations towards production rather than acquisitions and "large output deals".
In May 2017, eOne joined with Hollywood producer Brad Weston to launch global content creation studio MAKEREADY. The deal secured distribution rights for eOne in its territories and Universal in all other territories worldwide.
In 2017, eOne joined Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment, Alibaba Pictures and Universal Pictures in backing Amblin Partners, a content creation company led by Steven Spielberg.
On January 29, 2018, eOne acquired the remaining 49% in The Mark Gordon Co., and Gordon was named eOne's new president and chief content officer of film, television and digital.
In March 2018, eOne acquired live entertainment company Round Room Live, which organizes major tours including PJ Masks among others.
In April 2018, eOne acquired UK non-scripted production company Whizz Kid Entertainment. Later that year, eOne joined a round of investment in Jeffrey Katzenberg's short-form digital content venture "NewTV" (later renamed Quibi).
On March 5, 2019, eOne's Benelux division was acquired by a new company named WW Entertainment, founded by Wilco Wolfers and Caspar Wenckebach. As a result, all eOne Benelux titles, including future releases, have since moved to WW. Later that month, eOne reached an agreement with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to handle home media distribution of its films and television series in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
In 2019, eOne acquired UK-based unscripted company Daisybeck Studios. That same year, eOne acquired American long-form nonfiction producer BLACKFIN. Also in 2019, eOne Music acquired Audio Network, a British company involved in the production of music for film and television, for $215 million.
Acquisitions and targets
Since listing on AIM, eOne has made a series of acquisitions.
In June 2007, eOne acquired Contender Entertainment Group, one of the largest distributors of TV content in the UK(now operates as eOne UK)
In August 2007, eOne acquired Seville Entertainment Inc. for an undisclosed sum(now operates as Les Films Séville)
In January 2008, eOne acquired the Netherlands-based distributor RCV Entertainment(now operates as eOne Benelux)
In July 2008, eOne acquired TV producers Blueprint Entertainment and Barna-Alper Productions as well as domestic distributors Oasis International and Maximum Films.(Barna-Alper now operating as eOne Television, Maximum Films amalgamated into eOne Films Canada while Maximum Film International was amalgamated into Les Films Séville, all others closed)
In April 2011, eOne acquired Australian distribution company Hopscotch for £12.9 million.(now operates as eOne Australia)
In May 2014, eOne made a strategic equity investment in interactive agency Secret Location, and later took full control.
In January 2015, eOne acquired a 51% stake in The Mark Gordon Company, the production studio behind such TV series as Quantico, Grey's Anatomy, Army Wives, Ray Donovan and Criminal Minds; and films such as Steve Jobs, Source Code, The Day After Tomorrow, and Speed. It acquired the remaining 49% in January 2018.
In September 2015, eOne acquired a controlling stake on Astley Baker Davies thus increasing its ownership of the preschool franchise Peppa Pig.
In March 2018, eOne acquired Round Room Entertainment, a live entertainment company, founded by Stephen Shaw in 2016.
In April 2018, eOne acquired a majority 70% stake in British-based Whizz Kid Entertainment, producer of Ex on the Beach.
In April 2019, eOne acquired UK-based Audio Network, an independent creator and publisher of original music for use in film, television, advertising and digital media.
In July, eOne acquired British factual producer Daisybeck Studios.
In September 2019, eOne acquired US-based, nonfiction content producer Blackfin.
On August 22, 2019, American toy and media company Hasbro announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Entertainment One for US$4 billion. Throop cited that its goals to "unlock the power and value of creativity" were "[aligned] with Hasbro's corporate objectives", and would be enhanced by access to Hasbro's properties and merchandising capabilities. eOne's Canadian operations will be structured in such a way as to maintain eligibility for Canadian content classification. The deal was approved by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. On November 21, 2019, the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it would investigate the purchase under British competition law, to determine if it would result in a lessening of competition. The sale was completed on December 30, 2019. Throop remains CEO of eOne, reporting to Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. The UK CMA cleared the acquisition the following month. In April 2020, eOne had in early development (scripting) of its first Hasbro-related film, an untitled Transformers animated film.
In October 2020, eOne took over as Hasbro's new production arm and began development and distribution of content based on properties from the toy company, resulting in Allspark being absorbed into the acquired company.
The eOne film division was initially involved primarily in acquiring films for international distribution, but has since shifted its resources towards producing and funding its own films.
eOne Television (formerly Barna-Alper Productions) is a televisionproduction company founded in 1980 and based in Toronto, Ontario. In April 2005, the company launched a distribution division, Barna-Alper Releasing. Entertainment One acquired Barna-Alper Productions Inc., Blueprint Entertainment, and distributor Oasis International in July 2008 to expand its television production and distribution capabilities. As part of a company-wide rebrand, the three companies were folded into E1 Television in January 2009.
In 2013, eOne reached an agreement with AMC Networks to handle the international distribution of its original scripted productions, beginning with Halt and Catch Fire. The agreement expanded on existing pacts for the eOne-produced Hell on Wheels, and international distribution for The Walking Dead. The pact ended in May 2019 (with AMC having since expanded its in-house distribution business), although it will continue to handle international distribution for existing series, as well as The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.
eOne's Family & Brands division deals primarily in family-oriented intellectual property, including development, distribution, licensing, and marketing. The division has been seen growth credited to retail sales, licensing deals, and programming sales to broadcasters, accounting for US$202 million in revenue in 2018. It represented a year-over-year increase of 28%, with Peppa Pig and PJ Masks alone accounting for $114.9 million and $75.8 million respectively.