Banijay Names Endemol Shine’s Cris Abrego to Head North America/Latin America Operations (EXCLUSIVE)
It’s Cris Abrego’s time to shine. The Endemol Shine North America CEO has been tapped to lead Banijay’s North America and Latin America operations.
Abrego will now hold the title of Banijay’s chairman of the Americas, as well as president/CEO of Endemol Shine Holdings. He reports to Banijay CEO Marco Bassetti, who is putting his final touches on a new global organizational structure following Banijay’s recent acquisition of Endemol Shine Group in a $2.2 billion deal over the summer.
As part of the announcement, Abrego’s oversight will include Endemol Shine North America, Bunim/Murray Productions, Authentic Entertainment, Truly Original, 51 Minds Entertainment, Stephen David Entertainment and YellowBird US. (Banijay Studios North America will continue to be run independently by president/CEO David Goldberg.)
In Latin America, Abrego also will oversee Endemol Shine Latino, the company’s Spanish-language sales and development arm, which leads initiatives in the region including Mexico City-based Endemol Shine Boomdog and Endemol Shine Brasil in Sao Paulo.
“Cris has long been a significant figurehead in the US content ecosystem,” Bassetti said in a statement. “Respected, creatively triumphant and a driver of positive change, he has all the qualities to strategically and effectively lead one of our largest territories. With nine labels split across North and Latin America, spanning everything from entertainment to scripted, he has oversight of some of the region’s most celebrated IP and we’ve no doubt our pipeline and reputation will only soar under his leadership.”
As reported earlier Thursday by Variety, Bunim-Murray Prods. CEO Gil Goldschein will be departing as part of the news. But he’ll remain at the company through mid-February to help Abrego with the transition there.
For Abrego, the addition of Bunim-Murray to his responsibilities is a bit of a full-circle homecoming: He began his career in the TV business working on Bunim-Murray’s early MTV hit “Road Rules.”
Abrego first joined Endemol Shine North America as co-CEO in 2014, having previously co-founded and served as CEO of 51 Minds Entertainment, where he helped pioneer celebrity reality shows via early entries like “The Surreal Life.” Endemol acquired 51 Minds in 2008, and he continued worked up the ranks — most recently as CEO, Endemol Shine North America and Chairman, Endemol Shine Americas, titles he has held since 2016.
The newly combined portfolio under Abrego includes hits such as “Big Brother,” “Lego Masters,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Utopia,” “Ball in the Family,” “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and the upcoming “Wipeout” revival. Spanish-language entries include “Mira Quién Baila,” “LOL: Last One Laughing,” “¿Quién Es La Máscara?,” “MasterChef Mexico,” “Tu Cara Me Suena” and “Súbete a Mi Moto.”
Abrego said the expanded role would allow him and his team to “continue building on the tremendous momentum we’ve created at Endemol Shine over the last five years across North America and Latin America. I’m also looking forward to working closely with Marco and our new Banijay colleagues here in the U.S. and around the globe. Together we are now home to many of the biggest titles in our industry and our teams are currently developing the hits of tomorrow.”
Abrego shared his story of growing up in Los Angeles and building his own production company to becoming one of the most successful Latinos in TV in his 2016 book, “Make It Reality: Create Your Opportunity, Own Your Success.”
During the virtual Paley International Council Summit, Abrego also recently spoke with Bassetti about the newly merged Banijay, now in 22 territories, which Abrego described as a “global brain trust.”