UTA acquired management consulting firm MediaLink for $ 125 million as part of a deal designed to consolidate the talent agency’s strength in business marketing and consulting operations.
The pact with the British analytics firm Ascential provides that MediaLink will become an entity wholly owned by the agency. MediaLink will retain its name and management team, led by Founder and CEO Michael Kassan, and operate as a “UTA Company”. Kassan, who founded MediaLink in 2003, will become a partner agency.
MediaLink’s 150-plus employees in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and London are set to transition to UTA. UTA’s existing marketing department will become a unit of MediaLink, renamed UTA Entertainment & Culture Marketing. UTA Marketing Co-Managers David Anderson and Julian Jacobs will be part of MediaLink’s management team.
UTA’s decision to strengthen its business consulting business comes at a time of transformation for Hollywood’s leading talent agencies. Endeavor, parent company of WME, went public earlier this year. CAA is in the process of acquiring ICM Partners. Major agencies are bracing for a drastic shift as traditional TV packaging deals built around showrunners and writers will soon be banned under the terms of a new agency franchise imposed by the Writers Guild of America, starting in April. ‘next year.
UTA stressed that “no job losses are expected” as a result of the agreement.
UTA paid in cash the company that London-based Ascential acquired in February 2017. Ascential made an upfront cash payment of $ 69 million, on top of the earn-outs paid through February of this year which were worth up to $ 138 million more, according to the 2017 agreement.
The move to UTA is attractive to MediaLink due to its strong focus on media and entertainment giants. In an era of mergers and acquisitions madness, Kassan said there is no shortage of demand for in-depth analyzes of company structure, leadership teams and long-term business plans. Kassan and UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said Variety Businesses are also well suited because of the advisory services that UTA increasingly offers to its multi-trait clients who are embarking on all kinds of high-tech business ventures.
“MediaLink operates at a certain intersection in the marketing, media, advertising, entertainment and technology marketplace,” Kassan said. Variety. “The opportunity to be part of the UTA family, especially right now, allows us to do more on the entertainment side and work in areas we didn’t have before, in games, sports and music. . Doing this with Jeremy and his team is a huge advantage in deepening our understanding of technology and entertainment. UTA also has our passion for growth.
The first stir in the conversation between UTA and MediaLink came when Kassan and Zimmer met for a drink last May. Talks gathered momentum in the fall.
“We are living through an unprecedented time in the media industry as a whole,” said Zimmer. “All of these companies are looking for help in trying to get the bigger picture, the best ideas, the most expertise on how to navigate where they’re going to go.”
Zimmer noted that MediaLink’s market research would inevitably help UTA customers, as would the emergence of a thriving “creative economy” amid impressive levels of investment in content from media giants and the technology.
“We’re looking at how artists think about how they want their work shown,” Zimmer said. “There is a lot of information and ideas that we will be sharing. “
MediaLink has an interesting take on disruption and the direct-to-consumer hub in Hollywood through its work with clients like AT&T and financial services institutions on marketing spend, ad operations, and the technology infrastructure that powers large corporations. .
One of the biggest demands for analyzing business structure is to assess how much of the work of media buying, marketing, advertising and technology should be done in-house – a telltale sign of disruption, Kassan noted. MediaLink also has a “robust executive search practice that does a lot of talent benchmarking” for top companies, he said.
The union with MediaLink crowns a busy year of negotiations at UTA. The CAA-ICM partner agreement has heightened speculation that UTA will inevitably be part of an agency mega-merger. But for now, UTA has revitalized its activity on several fronts. It launched a $ 200 million SPAC launched earlier this month to pursue business opportunities in video games, game content and related technologies. UTA has also ventured into the NFT market and increasingly pursues agency agreements with non-traditional clients in areas related to digital art and cryptography.
Zimmer pointed out that UTA sees MediaLink as a huge building block in an area where UTA has excelled since its inception 30 years ago. MediaLink is a growth vector for UTA.
“I think we can broaden the definition of entertainment marketing and make it much bigger and broader,” Zimmer said. “It’s constantly growing, it’s a very good deal for us. MediaLink will energize this business.
UTA was advised in the matter by Skadden Arps and PWC. Michael Kassan has been replaced by Michelman & Robinson.