Michael MacMillan and his long-time business partner (and film-school mate) Seaton McLean only started Blue Ant Media a little over a year ago. But they’ve been very busy since then, completing a number of deals that established a stable of content and distribution assets in three niche markets: lifestyle, comedy and music. The question is, where do they go from here?
Blue Ant Media makes its first big splash by buying a controlling interest in GlassBox Television, which operates digital properties and three specialty channels: comedy-focused Bite TV, music channel Aux TV (both launched by GlassBox) and Travel + Escape (purchased from CTV in Nov. 2010).
“We were on the path of trying to build a new, strong independent player in the Canadian marketplace that really understood digital platforms and digital technology in an intimate fashion. The really successful companies of the future will understand all of these platforms and be able to deliver audience engagement in unique ways to advertisers.” — Raja Khanna, GlassBox CEO
Who says print is dead? Blue Ant adds to its lifestyle content expertise by taking a minority stake in Quarto Communications, a multimedia company best known for its magazines Cottage Life, Explore, Outdoor Canada and Canadian Home Workshop. Blue Ant says the intent is to move Quarto’s brands deeper into TV and digital media, citing the relevant expertise to do so acquired from the Travel + Escape deal.
“Quarto has been adept at identifying a niche and capturing it from A to Z. They want to own the whole cottage experience and that has real appeal to advertisers.”
—Robb Chase, Blue Ant Media chief operating officer
Blue Ant goes high-def after signing a deal to acquire broadcaster High Fidelity HDTV and its four HD channels: Oasis HD, HIFI HD, eqhd and radX. High Fidelity specializes in non-fiction programming, about a third of which is produced by the company itself. “We program for boomers. Period,” states the producers’ guide. “We target an affluent, educated and management-level demographic.” Though not through 30-second spots, using instead “promotional elements” that inform viewers of upcoming programming. At the same time, Blue Ant announces Providence Equity Capital Markets will provide financing to help with the acquisition, and Torstar takes a 25% ownership stake.
“We see the potential in Michael’s vision for a new kind of media company in Canada.” —David Holland, Torstar CEO
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