Leading entertainment executive and entrepreneur Cris Abrego and celebrated director, producer, and activist Eva Longoria announced today that they have formed a new media holding company and premium content studio, Hyphenate Media Group. The new venture will invest in creator-led enterprises as well as develop and produce its own slate of original programming. Abrego will serve as the CEO of the company, and Longoria will serve as its Chief Creative Officer. Media and entertainment powerhouse Banijay, led by Chairman Stéphane Courbit and CEO Marco Bassetti, where Abrego has served as Chairman of the Americas since 2020, has made a strategic investment in the new business to accelerate its growth.
The announcement was made by Abrego and Longoria during a dedicated keynote at MIPCOM Cannes: The Future of Content: What Comes Next?
Collaborators for twenty years, Abrego and Longoria have identified a number of creator-led enterprises with proven leadership and the potential to scale and will dedicate the initial phase of Hyphenate Media Group’s growth to building out its portfolio of partners. As the industry finds itself at an inflection point, Hyphenate offers an alternative model, supporting creator-entrepreneurs as they build their own production companies and develop a slate of projects to sell independently. The new venture will drive the creative output and deal-making capacity of each partnered company through capital investment, brand development, and the collaborative advantage and infrastructure provided by Hyphenate’s core leadership team.
With an eye towards capturing the rapidly evolving marketplace, which is driven by an ever younger and more diverse audience, Hyphenate Media Group will leverage its co-founders’ commitment to address the industry’s urgent demand for ground-breaking premium content with an inclusive approach and broad appeal. As a destination for visionary multi-hyphenate creator-entrepreneurs, Hyphenate is poised to provide the entertainment industry with a business solution by enabling a multiplicity of connections to audiences around its different brands.
To jumpstart its own independent studio function, Hyphenate Media Group has acquired the full slate of UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, the independent production label founded by Longoria in 2005 and behind titles such as Telenovela, Grand Hotel, and Searching for Mexico. UnbeliEVAble Entertainment projects will be folded into the core operations of the new business, with Hyphenate taking over and advancing the entire lineup as well as developing new scripted and unscripted programs. Its first title, Apple TV+’s Land of Women, is expected to be released in 2024. Both Abrego and Longoria will produce exclusively for the new company, and all television projects directed by Longoria will be produced under the new banner.
Abrego and Longoria are currently in negotiations with several key executives and anticipate announcing their leadership team later this year.
Cris Abrego, Co-Founder and CEO, Hyphenate Media Group: “With Hyphenate Media Group, Eva and I are building an engine for culture-defining content by investing in visionary multi-hyphenate artists and providing these extraordinary creative leaders with the resources and infrastructure they need to scale their businesses. Through capital, brand development, and the leadership provided by Hyphenate, we will drive their creative output, enhance their deal-making capacity, and grow their brands, building franchises driven by original IP. Over the course of my career, I have scaled multiple production studios, starting with my own and, more recently, on behalf of Banijay. I have known Stéphane and Marco for many years, and I am grateful to count on their support and investment in this next chapter.”
Eva Longoria, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Hyphenate Media Group: “With Hyphenate Media Group, Cris and I are leveraging the power of the creative industry’s greatest resource, the multi-hyphenate, to help meet audiences and the industry where they are. We are answering the industry’s call for premium inclusive content with broad appeal and an undeniable point of view. Our intention is to provide greater financial participation for makers, creators, talent, and entrepreneurs – the Hyphenates. Given the multiple transformations that our business is undergoing, I cannot think of a better time to lean into makers, who are the essential drivers of the creative enterprise.”
Marco Bassetti, CEO, Banijay: “Hyphenate Media Group is a studio with a truly unique perspective. Combining Cris’ standout creative leadership with Eva’s reputation as a celebrated producer, director, and activist, this is a powerful home where multi-hyphenate voices can truly tell inclusive mainstream stories. And, with an ambitious vision, unrivaled credentials, and an impressive growth trajectory, this marks the perfect first strategic investment for us in the U.S. scripted market; a space we’d explored for some time but never, until now, found the right fit to cut through.”
Renowned as an entrepreneur, entertainment executive, award-winning producer, showrunner, and philanthropist, Abrego serves as Chairman of the Americas for media and entertainment powerhouse Banijay. He previously served as CEO of Endemol Shine Holdings, where he grew the company aggressively by scaling several acquisitions under its banner, including Endemol Shine Boomdog, Endemol Shine Brasil, and Truly Original. As co-founder and CEO of 51 Minds Entertainment in 2003, Abrego was one of the pioneers of the celeb-reality genre with breakthrough unscripted formats such as The Surreal Life and the many spin-offs it generated. He grew that company from its boutique beginnings to be a major unscripted studio acquired by Endemol five years later. Abrego also serves as Chair of the Television Academy Foundation, the charitable pro-social arm of the Television Academy, and as a member of the Executive Committee for the Television Academy.
Celebrated globally for her breadth of work in front of and behind the camera, Longoria founded production company UnbeliEVAble Entertainment in 2005, soon after her breakthrough onscreen role on Desperate Housewives. The prolific company has since been behind hits including Grand Hotel (ABC), Telenovela (NBC), the Emmy Award-nominated documentary Reversing Row (Netflix), and the celebrated culinary docuseries Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico (CNN), distributed by Banijay Rights and available at MIPCOM 2023. Named by Variety as one of its “Directors To Watch” in 2023, Longoria made her feature directorial debut with the critically and audience-acclaimed Flamin’ Hot, released earlier this year by Searchlight Pictures on Disney+ and Hulu. The film was Searchlights Pictures’ most streamed premiere ever. Longoria also directed and produced the Sundance-premiered and critically acclaimed documentary La Guerra Civil, chronicling the historic bout between boxing legends Oscar de la Hoya and Julio César Chávez, which will be released by DAZN in 2024. A dedicated philanthropist and activist, she has consistently lent her voice to a range of key issues, including diversity and inclusion in the media, Latina entrepreneurship, and STEM education.
Cris Abrego remains Chairman of Americas for Banijay alongside his role of Co-Founder and CEO, Hyphenate Media Group.
About Hyphenate Media Group
Led by entertainment executive and entrepreneur Cris Abrego (Co-Founder and CEO) and celebrated director, producer, and activist Eva Longoria (Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer), Hyphenate Media Group is a new media holding company and premium content studio that aims to capture audiences through ground-breaking and culture-defining content.
In addition to developing and producing its own slate of original scripted and unscripted programs, Hyphenate invests in creator-led production companies, scaling these enterprises through capital investment, brand development, and the infrastructure and collaborative advantage provided by Hyphenate’s core leadership team.
To jumpstart its own studio function, Hyphenate acquired the full slate of UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, the independent production label founded by Longoria in 2005 and behind titles such as Telenovela, Grand Hotel, and Searching for Mexico. Hyphenate’s first title, Apple TV+’s Land of Women, is expected to be released in 2024.
Launched in 2008, media and entertainment powerhouse, Banijay, is home to over 130 production companies across 21 territories, a multi-genre catalogue boasting over 180,000 hours of original standout programming, and a complementary live entertainment business – Banijay Events.
Imagining and delivering high-quality, multi-genre IP that was born locally and travels globally, the business offers the best stories told the best way, and represents some of the biggest global brands in the market including Survivor, Big Brother, Peaky Blinders, MasterChef, Rogue Heroes, Marie Antoinette, Mr Bean, Love Triangle, Hunted, The Summit, Black Mirror, Blow Up!, and Starstruck among others.
Built on independence, creative freedom, collaborative entrepreneurialism, and commercial acumen, the company, operates under the direction of Chief Executive Officer, Marco Bassetti. It is under his leadership, the business has grown to reach €3.2bn in revenues and €472m in EBITDA for 2022.