Mark Cuban has sold a majority stake in his HDNet cable channels to Leonard Asper’s Anthem Sports & Entertainment.
Entertainer and ubiquitous TV host Steve Harvey has signed on with Toronto-based Anthem as an investor in the deal that includes the music-focused AXS TV channel and HDNet Movies. Anschutz Entertainment Group and Cuban remain equity partners in the venture as well. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Founded in 2011, Anthem operates linear and digital channels in the U.S. and Canada devoted to wrestling, boxing, hunting and fishing and gaming.
“Anthem was founded with a mission to deliver compelling, targeted content and experiences to passionate fans globally on the platform of their choice. The music, sports and entertainment communities served by these channels are a natural extension and perfect complement to our existing properties,” said Asper, who is CEO of Anthem and former CEO of CanWest Global Communications Corp. “The addition of AXS TV and HDNet Movies will allow for increased content ownership, digital expansion and even more compelling programming for consumers and our distribution partners.”
Cuban founded the company in 2001 as HDNet to capitalize on the growth of high-definition programming options. The HDNet channel was relaunched as AXS TV in 2012 as a partnership among Cuban, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and CAA. AEG’s global partnerships advertising sales unit will continue to handle sales for the channel alongside Anthem.
“Anthem’s combination of targeted brands, enthusiastic audiences, operational expertise, international footprint and vision makes them an ideal partner to take AXS TV and HDNet Movies to their next levels,” Cuban said. “Given Anthem’s portfolio of premium content and complementary programming networks, we could not ask for a better home, and we are looking forward to the results we will collectively generate for this new partnership.”
Harvey said he planned to be involved in content development for the expanded channels group. Harvey’s Steve Harvey Global unit will have a seat on Anthem’s board.
“My team and I see great opportunity in Anthem,” Harvey said. “They have incredible shows, experiential entertainment, and a huge reach. We look forward to collaborating with Anthem on content development that will surprise and delight this newly expanded audience.”
Anthem’s channel roster at present includes Fight Network, which reaches 43 million homes in the U.S. and Canada, Impact Wrestling, Pursuit Channel and Game TV.