Founder, Chairman & CEO, Entertainment Studios
In 1993, comedian, producer, media mogul, and philanthropist Byron Allen founded his Los Angeles-based global media company, Entertainment Studios. The company has additional offices in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Raleigh. Allen now owns one of the largest cable network portfolios in the industry, featuring ten, 24-hour HD television networks (THE WEATHER CHANNEL, COMEDY.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, JUSTICECENTRAL.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, PETS.TV, RECIPE.TV, LOCAL NOW, and THE WEATHER CHANNEL EN ESPAÑOL). The company continues to produce and distributing Emmy Award-winning and nominated shows, while also selling advertising for 43 broadcast and cable television programs. Entertainment Studios has one of the largest libraries of family and advertiser-friendly lifestyle content in the world.
Further distinguishing Entertainment Studios is its status as the first African-American owned multi-platform media studio producing and distributing wide-release motion pictures and content for all platforms. In 2015, Allen purchased Freestyle Releasing, now called Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, a full-service theatrical movie distribution company.
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN. In 2018, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures released the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES and the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK. Upcoming releases include the animated feature ARCTIC DOGS starring Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, Alec Baldwin, and Anjelica Huston, and the sequel to 47 METERS DOWN -- 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED. The digital distribution unit of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films. In 2016, Entertainment Studios purchased TheGrio, a digital, video-centric news platform devoted to providing compelling entertainment, news and lifestyle content for African-Americans. TheGrio features aggregated and original video packages, news articles, and blogs on topics that include breaking news, politics, health, business, and entertainment and remains focused on curating engaging digital content and currently has more than 20 million annual visitors.
In the spring of 2018, Byron Allen acquired the #1 weather news television network, The Weather Channel. In 2018, The Weather Channel was named the 2018 Harris Poll EquiTrend TV News Brand for the eighth consecutive year. It also deployed cutting-edge storytelling with its IMR (Immersive Mixed Reality) technology which draws viewers into detailed and visually stunning weather and climate events.
In 2019, Byron Allen announced the launch of The Weather Channel en Español which is slated for launch in 2020. Building even stronger connections with consumers nationwide, Entertainment Studios/The Weather Channel will soon also launch Local Now, an engaging OTT, mobile app and digital streaming network that delivers fresh lifestyle news, weather, traffic and entertainment. Local Now is powered by The Weather Channel technology which was a defining factor that attracted Allen and his executive team as they acquired the 36 year old, all-American brand.
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ADDITIONAL BYRON ALLEN BIO/BACKGROUND
Allen’s interest in show business began during his childhood, when he would accompany his mother to NBC studios in Burbank where she worked as a publicist. Free to roam the soundstages, Allen would sneak onto THE TONIGHT SHOW set, sit behind Johnny Carson’s desk and play talk show host. But he took it one step further, and at age 14, Allen put together his first stand-up routine and began appearing on amateur night at comedy clubs throughout the Los Angeles area. At one performance, comedian Jimmy Walker saw the act and was so impressed that he invited the 14 year-old comedian to join his comedy writing team alongside promising young comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman. At age 18, Allen made his national television debut on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON. Allen holds the distinction of being the youngest standup comedian ever to have performed on the show. Watching Allen’s network television debut were the producers of NBC’s REAL PEOPLE, who were so taken with his comfortable, relaxed style that they made him an offer the very next day to co-host what would become the first reality-based program ever broadcast on television. He accepted, and REAL PEOPLE dominated the network’s Wednesday night prime-time for five years.
Allen’s experience hosting REAL PEOPLE was his training ground for the business of television. His gig was to travel the nation with a crew and shoot segments profiling real people across America’s heartland. So while he was getting his feet wet as a television personality, he was also learning the ins and outs of television production. The experience also prepared him to take on the business of advertising and syndication, which he learned in the trenches by personally calling station owners, programming directors and advertisers, one-by-one and market-by-market.
For many years, Mr. Allen was the annual host of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Annual “Dinner of Champions.” This annual event is sponsored by and benefits the Southern California Chapter of the National MS Society. It raises funds that support MS research worldwide, as well as vital programs and services for people living with MS and their families.
Most recently, Mr. Allen was presented with the 2014 Children’s Inspiration Award from the Los Angeles charitable organization A Place Called Home. The Children’s Inspiration Award is presented to an individual whose vision is large enough to embrace the “impossible” and whose tenacity is great enough to achieve things that “can’t be done.” The recipient has overcome hardships and obstacles, and transcended in ways that serve as an inspiration. In 2017, Byron Allen launched his company’s first annual Oscar Gala, an Academy Awards viewing party held at the Beverly Hills Montage Hotel on Oscar night – which raised over $1 million for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. From humble beginnings himself, Byron Allen has made good and made a difference!
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About Entertainment Studios / Allen Media Chairman and CEO Byron Allen founded Entertainment Studios in 1993. Headquartered in Los Angeles, it has offices in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Raleigh. Entertainment Studios owns nine 24-hour HD television networks serving nearly 160 million subscribers: THE WEATHER CHANNEL, THE WEATHER CHANNEL EN ESPAÑOL, PETS.TV, COMEDY.TV, RECIPE.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, and JUSTICE CENTRAL.TV. Entertainment Studios also owns the LOCAL NOW streaming service, powered by THE WEATHER CHANNEL and content partners, which delivers real-time, hyper-local news, weather, traffic, sports, and lifestyle information. Entertainment Studios also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 43 television programs, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations. With a library of over 5,000 hours of owned content across multiple genres, Entertainment Studios provides video content to broadcast television stations, cable television networks, mobile devices, multimedia platforms, and the World Wide Web. Our mission is to provide excellent programming to our viewers, online users, and Fortune 500 advertising partners.
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures is a full-service, theatrical motion picture distribution company specializing in wide release commercial content. ESMP released 2017's highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN, which grossed over $44.3 million. In 2018, ESMP also released the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES and the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK. Upcoming releases include the animated feature ARCTIC DOGS starring Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, Alec Baldwin, and Anjelica Huston, and the sequel to 47 METERS DOWN, 47 METERS DOWN--UNCAGED. The digital distribution unit of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films.
In 2016, Entertainment Studios purchased TheGrio, a digital video-centric news community platform devoted to providing African-Americans with compelling stories and perspectives currently underrepresented in existing national news outlets. TheGrio features aggregated and original video packages, news articles and opinion pieces on topics that include breaking news, politics, health, business and entertainment. Originally launched in 2009, the platform was then purchased by NBC News in 2010. The digital platform remains focused on curating exciting digital content and currently has more than 20 million annual visitors.
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