Ryan Seacrest is adding a marketing-services agency to his budding media empire, which includes several hit reality shows and a stake in a fledgling cable-TV network.
Ryan Seacrest Acquires a Marketing-Services Agency
The "American Idol" host has purchased a majority stake in Civic Entertainment Group through his investment arm, Seacrest Global Group. The deal is the first for Seacrest Global Group, which was created to make strategic investments to complement his production unit, Ryan Seacrest Productions.
Civic Entertainment Group has worked with clients including TV networks HBO, ESPN, A&E Networks and CNN, providing marketing services from digital campaigns to event production. It helped NBC News create Education Nation, for example, a platform for parents, teachers and policymakers to discuss challenges and solutions in American education. It also also helped Lifetime turn New York City's High Line park into a virtual runway to promote the 10th season of "Project Runway," worked with CNN on its CNN Grill at the political conventions and helped in HBO's expansive campaign around the second season of "Boardwalk Empire."
Its events business provided part of the appeal, Mr. Seacrest said in an interview. "I have been to big brand events and hosted them and saw what went into creating them and thought we should own a company that does this," he said.
Civic Entertainment Group employs about 45 people and has annual billings of approximately $40 million. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Mr. Seacrest said the agency's infrastructure and capabilities can help him in his next project: creating live TV events. While Mr. Seacrest produces reality shows such as "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and has a movie, game show and scripted series all in the works, he has yet to produce his own live TV property.
The agency also stood out for its creativity, he added. "It's hard to create noise in this environment, and they have done it," he said.
Mr. Seacrest plans to use his extensive connections in the industry to bring more clients to Civic Entertainment Group.
"Ryan has a singular, incredible vision of building the next-generation media and entertainment empire," said Stuart Ruderfer, who founded Civic Entertainment Group with David Cohn. "Our partnership with him brings together content creation, emerging media and technology. This is a completely unique suite of services we can offer our clients."
Mr. Ruderfer and Mr. Cohn will continue as co-CEOs. Mr. Seacrest will sit on the board of directors.
Mr. Seacrest said he anticipates several deals to come with companies that can work strategically with his other properties, including Ryan Seacrest Productions and AXS TV, the cable-channel venture with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, talent agency Creative Artists Agency and events promoter AEG. "RSP, Civic and AXS are all separate, but have common denominators," Mr. Seacrest said. "There are ways for all of them to work together."
"I am in the business of communicating to an audience, creating content and working with brands to bring them to consumers," he added.
Mr. Seacrest's quest to become a full-fledged media mogul depends on diversification, an effort that 's already well underway. His on-air presence is unmatched. Aside from "Idol," he has an expansive relationship with NBC Universal, contributing to the "Today" show and NBC's coverage of the London Olympics. He executive produces and hosts ABC's "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest." On the radio he hosts Clear Channel's "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" and "American Top 40." His work behind the camera includes the "Kardashians" franchise and "Married to Jonas" for E!, the ABC reality series "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" and "Shahs of Sunset" for Bravo.
Upcoming projects include a game show based on the Zynga game Draw Something, which is currently awaiting pickup by CBS. Mr. Seacrest is also developing "Food Fight" with Paramount Pictures and a TV version of the book "Nanny Diaries."
Mr. Seacrest isn't limiting himself to the U.S. "I am also looking to add another asset that could take this to a more global level," he said. But he doesn't want deals that limit his flexibility by insisting on exclusivity in one arena or another.
His efforts so far have garnered the attention of private-equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital, which invested $300 million to fund Mr. Seacrest's entertainment and media projects, although that money was not involved in the Civic Entertainment Group deal. The three recently considered purchasing Dick Clark Productions, but ultimately pulled out of the bidding. In January, Clear Channel also acquired a minority stake in Ryan Seacrest Productions.