Temple Street Productions, the Toronto-based studio that creates popular television shows such as Orphan Black, is restructuring to carve out separate branches that are designed to grow its digital, animation and branding ventures.
The production company will still be at the core of a newly created entity, Boat Rocker Media. It will serve as an umbrella company, allowing Temple Street to focus on creating programming while other business lines from distribution to digital ventures are handled by dedicated divisions.
Temple Street has been in an expansive mindset since last July when Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., a Toronto-based insurance and investment firm led by Prem Watsa, took a majority stake in the production company. Fairfax's backing provided a cash infusion – although the amount has not been disclosed – to allow Temple Street to acquire other companies and push its content further into the international market.
While Fairfax is involved in setting the company's direction, the day-to-day leadership from Temple Street will stay at the helm of Boat Rocker Media, with co-founders David Fortier and Ivan Schneeberg as co-executive chairmen and current managing director John Young promoted to Boat Rocker's chief executive officer.
"Temple Street as a brand, and what it represented, started to feel too narrow for what we hoped to do with the business," Mr. Schneeberg said in an interview. The reorganization, combined with the new capital from Fairfax, "allows us to be a bit more courageous and have a bit more confidence in ourselves, and to take some bolder risks."
Founded in 2006, Temple Street also produces the popular Family Channel program The Next Step as well as the current CBC show X Company and past success Being Erica. But it also has a growing online presence through webisodes and special content complementing its TV series, even building a subscription-based fitness app that has partnered with Rugby Canada.
Temple Street will now operate under Boat Rocker Studios, the parent company's development and production arm, allowing it to focus exclusively on content creation, particularly for TV, which will still be its "bread and butter," Mr. Schneeberg said. But it will also house a digital division to create apps, games, software and even virtual-reality content as well as video as the company grows more "platform-agnostic," Mr. Young said.
Other functions that had been tacked on to the Temple Street business as it grew will now be given their own space and staff. The new company includes a rights arm for global sales and licensing, partly to acquire and license shows created by other producers. A ventures division will invest in technology and intellectual property, and a branding segment will look at ways to extract maximum dollars from hits such as Orphan Black. The company has also built a new 465-square-metre animation shop after investing last year in Toronto-based animation studio Industrial Brothers.
Boat Rocker Media will remain Toronto-based, but will open offices in New York to go with an existing outpost in California.
"We can now start to build in those new areas, add staff, add teams in different parts of the world, and obviously we're still looking to acquire other entities as we build," Mr. Young said.
Boat Rocker is in the midst of several "serious conversations" about possible acquisitions, and plans to be "fairly" aggressive in pursuing them, he said. The restructuring is also intended to make the business, which is privately owned, easier to understand should the company need to raise more capital, or choose to pursue an initial public offering, Mr. Young said, although "it's not that that is a goal of ours."
"We felt creating a new organization and a new structure was the first phase, really, of getting the growth correct, and putting us on the right path," he said.