Anthem CEO Talks AXS TV Deal, How It Came About

Anthem founder and CEO Leonard Asper believes the recent acquisition of AXS TV won't be the last one Anthem will get.

In an interview with Multichannel News, Asper stated that the company will try and look for more opportunities to expand after making a number of acquisitions in recent years. The news of Anthem buying a majority stake in AXS could potentially be big for Impact Wrestling, given that Anthem is Impact's parent company, as it could head to AXS TV, though nothing has been confirmed. Asper commented on different content appearing on different platforms, but he did not specify what plans are for Impact down the line.

“By no means do we want to stop here,” Asper said. “I don’t think we have enough scale. This is a good start, but yes, we are looking for other opportunities. We want to grow with as much proprietary content as we can. That’s a very important part of our growth plan, owning content. We believe owning the content and putting it on our channels, but also having it on other people’s platforms as well. I call that untethered vertical integration.”

With Anthem acquiring AXS, it could potentially mean as many as three different wrestling shows on one channel. AXS already airs New Japan Pro Wrestling and WOW Women of Wrestling. Asper said Anthem has been trying to find properties they can buy and expand, but didn't want the content to be limited to just a U.S. audience. Given how wrestling is already a part of AXS programming, Asper said talks naturally occurred until a deal was struck.

“We’ve been looking for an acquisition for some time to grow and get scale, and do what everybody else in the media business is doing. We looked for things that serve passionate communities, can transform to digital media companies and have no geographical limitations on them. We were talking about a content relationship with them based on some of the other things we do -- wrestling and e-sports and fantasy sports -- and that led to this deal. There was no investment bank hired or a process at all. This was a discussion that came out of a relationship we were developing with them," Asper said.

In addition to Anthem buying a majority stake in AXS, entertainer and television host Steve Harvey has also joined the new entity as an investor. Harvey will also enter into a strategic agreement for content development and promotion of Anthem’s portfolio of channels.

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