After buying MGM in 1986, legendary media mogul Ted Turner marveled that go-go media moguls are celebrated for being so rich, while their bankers constantly remind them that they owe a fortune.
“That’s exactly right,” chuckles Byron Allen of the parallels to his company Entertainment Studios, founded 25 years ago as CF Entertainment. “And Ted’s one of my heroes.”
The standup comic-turned-Hollywood entrepreneur has built his privately owned company into a sizable entertainment enterprise with 650 employees. His burgeoning empire spans basic cable TV networks, over-the-top video streaming channels, motion pictures, TV production/syndication and digital media.
Two events in the past year provided transformative leaps: Allen acquired basic cable network the Weather Channel in March for a reported $300 million, and then lined up a $500 million credit line in September that can fuel more expansion. It is estimated that adding the Weather Channel lifted Entertainment Studios — solely owned by Allen — to about $600 million in annualized revenue.