FremantleMedia Forays into Online Gambling

18 September 2008

FremantleMedia, the London-based production company and rights holder behind big name international television shows like "Idol," "Got Talent" and "The Price is Right," is jumping into the online gambling world -- a natural progression for a media company which has had success in Las Vegas with its most popular media brand.

"We have a long heritage in the gambling industry," Paul Kanareck, FremantleMedia's head of ventures, told IGamingNews via e-mail on Wednesday. " 'The Price is Right' has been one of the top performing slots in Las Vegas where we have even launched a live version of the show."

FremantleMedia today announced the launch of FremantleMedia Gaming, a new division of the company, whose sole purpose is to develop cash prize games through partnerships for distribution through licensing agreements with operators.

Mr. Kanareck explained why now is the right time for a media company to foray into the online gambling market.

"As the industry moves online, so we are following it," he said. "In our conversations with operators and platforms over the past few years we have understood their needs to be: high quality branded games, that have international and local recognition (in regulated and legal markets) and help position them as entertainment companies. As such, our aim (no less) is to recreate Las Vegas on the PC screen."

Mr. Kanareck said FremantleMedia Gaming is different from other media-cum-gaming companies because it is taking an active role in its own branded games from development to delivery. The company has an in-house development team which oversees the integration of its games with its TV brands.

"FremantleGaming takes Fremantle a step further on the value chain and involves developing games (predominantly online slots) around our key formats and then driving their distribution to third party operators and platforms," Mr. Kanareck said.

He added that the company has no current plans to go directly to consumers as they see themselves as a supplier to business-to-consumer operators and platforms.

"We believe that this offers a very compelling proposition to operators and platforms," Mr. Kanareck said. "The combination of brand owner and developer is unique and should deliver a superior entertainment/gaming product."

Each brand will be a separate game, and Mr. Kanareck said that while he naturally expects all of them to be successful, he is particularly excited about the core game show brands like "The Price is Right," "Play Your Cards Right," "Blankety Blank" and "Sale of the Century," which are the first crop of titles set for release.

FremantleMedia Gaming has also signed its first two partnership agreements: with NextGen Gaming, the Australia-based online slots software developer, and Electracade, the London-based online gaming software developer. These agreements will enable Fremantle to benefit from each company's expertise in gaming mechanics, Mr. Kanareck said.

Looking ahead, Mr. Kanareck said Fremantle is already developing further games around its TV show titles for release later in the year and will be announcing deals with other rights holders who are looking to Fremantle to similarly exploit their brands.

"We are building FremantleMedia Gaming to be the main supplier of branded entertainment games to the industry," he added. "In the short term we will be looking to maximize the pipeline of branded games and then really looking to build deeper and collaborative relationships with the operators and platforms to innovate new entertainment products and experiences for their customers."

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.