Lionsgate announced the acquisition of a huge ownership stake in “one of the most sought-after independent production companies in the [unscripted television] space,” Deadline.com reports, estimating the stake in Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios at about $200 million, or more than 50% of Pilgrim.
In announcing the deal today, the companies described the arrangement as a partnership. The key players weren’t commenting on the value of the deal, but Pilgrim founder and CEO Piligian will reportedly keep a major ownership position.
“Pilgrim will continue to operate independently with full creative autonomy under its current management team headed by Piligian,” Deadline notes.
“Pilgrim — whose programming slate encompasses 47 unscripted and scripted series spanning 27 networks, including hits ‘Ghost Hunters’ (SyFy), ‘Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s’ (OWN), ‘Fast N’ Loud’ (Discovery), ‘Wicked Tuna’ (National Geographic) and ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ (Fox Sports 1) — had long been one of the most lucrative acquisition targets in the reality space. It had attracted multiple suitors over the years but no deal was made,” Deadline notes.
In the announcement, Piligian said: “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. 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.”
Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate, added: “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. This transaction scales and diversifies our television business by aligning Pilgrim, the market leader in nonfiction programming, with our robust scripted production operations as well as our premier syndication business operating under the Debmar-Mercury banner.”