Hollywood Vets Forge Cross-Platform ‘Link’

LOS ANGELES Three entertainment-industry veterans have teamed to form branded-entertainment firm Link Media Management, a representative of the newly launched venture said.

Based in downtown Los Angeles’ arty Brewery district, the firm will produce, package and distribute branded programming “wherever television reception is available, a cell phone signal can be received, or a computer can be accessed,” said founder Michael McGraw, in a statement. Link would initially focus its efforts in the United States and the United Kingdom, the rep said.

McGraw, former head of content development and acquisition at Australian telecom Telstra, is joined in the Link initiative by partners Tom Troy and Eric Leemon. Troy was previously vice president of distribution for Liberty Media/Sony Pictures’ GSN network, and Leemon was a creative executive at Sony Pictures’ Television and World Poker Tour Enterprises, according to the rep.

“Our backgrounds are all very different, but very complementary,” Leemon said. By merging their personal and professional strengths, he said, the trio came up with the “central theme behind what we’re doing . . . giving brands the most exposure across all the channels of distribution” for a monetary investment just slightly higher than that of a traditional advertising campaign.

While branded content is now frequently seen on TV shows, Leemon noted, it’s rarely “more than just a one-shot deal. You see it once, [there’s] a spike in sales for a couple days, then it goes away.”

Link’s model, he explained, allows brands to be “organically and naturally” integrated into both linear TV programs, as well as repurposed as video-on-demand, wireless and universally accessible broadband content. And “not only are we creating, developing and producing entertainment content,” Leemon added. “We’re providing in-house distribution directly to the service provider.”

To create program content, Leeman said, Link Media Management has established creative alliances with production companies on the East and West Coasts. Depending upon the client, he said, the firm will either develop brand-specific programming or offer brand-appropriate pre-crafted concepts.

Leemon said Link is already at work on a number of productions, including a “docu-soap” and sports-, financial- and video game-related programming on behalf of “several pretty significant brands.” Programming is expected to break by spring 2006.