Hearst buys 50% of NorthSouth Productions


NorthSouth is one of America’s largest independent producers of non-scripted television programming. The joint venture will be part of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, operated by Scott Sassa, president, which includes ownership in A&E, HISTORY and ESPN; a joint venture with Mark Burnett, One Three Media; King Features Syndicate; and an investment in social gaming company SpookyCool, among other holdings.

NorthSouth’s current hit series include Impractical Jokers, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. Founded by Executive Producers DeBevoise and Hickman in 2000, the company has corporate offices in New York City and Knoxville, Tenn., and production facilities in Atlanta and Los Angeles. NorthSouth’s client list includes nearly every major cable outlet, including A&E, HISTORY, TLC, Discovery, truTV, Food Network, Sundance, Speed and Travel Channel.

The announcement was made by Frank Bennack, Jr., CEO of Hearst, and Charlie DeBevoise and Mark Hickman, both founders and partners of NorthSouth.

“This partnership gives us a significantly stronger presence in cable network production, which is experiencing a steady growth in overall demand,” Bennack said. “When we first partnered with Mark Burnett in 2011 and entered television production, we had a strategic vision of building a full-service 21st century production company—NorthSouth is an important piece in furthering this effort.”

“NorthSouth is right at the center of the burgeoning television ‘reality comedy’ category which is attracting both men and women of all demographics across a number of important and diverse networks,” Sassa said. “Charlie and Mark have created a growing, all-purpose production company with demonstrated range across various genres. Their company also complements our joint venture with Mark Burnett in One Three Media, which currently has the No. 1 show in demographics three nights a week: The Voice on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Shark Tank on Fridays. All in, this is a great investment for us.”

Hidden camera comedy series Impractical Jokers is set to debut 12/13 with back-to-back episodes at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET on truTV. In this original series, four childhood buddies, Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray, Joe Gatto and Sal Vulcano have challenged each other to outrageous public dares and now, to find out who is the best, they will compete at a new level via hidden camera.

The fifth season of TLC’s flagship series Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta will debut in Q1. Its spinoff hit, Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids, is in production on season four. Both shows have seen ratings growth following the recent broadcast of a NorthSouth documentary about cast member Lori Allen’s brave and ultimately successful battle with breast cancer.

The first season of Lovetown, a co-production with the BBC, just wrapped for OWN. New series in the wings include Lifetime’s Double Divasthat launches in January and a five-hour series of documentaries for Military Channel called Bullet Points. NorthSouth’s Canadian based pilot,Bada Bling Bridal, received high marks for its November debut and two new pilots for Vegas Bridal will air back to back on 12/28 on TLC.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is a great move on Hearst’s part. “Impractical Jokers” is just plain hilarious and is certainly moving up the charts in the eyes of viewers and advertisers. We think the show will get even better by adding selected viewers into the mix from time to time, as one of the jokers.