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15 Years after EM.TV buys the Muppets, Sesame Street and The Jim Henson Company

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by BoyRaisin2, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Well-Known Member

    Not sure if this goes under "Henson People," but in any case, it was fifteen years ago today (or yesterday by the time I post this), on February 21, 2000, that the Henson family sold the entirety of The Jim Henson Company to EM.TV & Merchandising AG of Munich, Germany. I was only fourteen at the time, but I followed every turn of this multi-year saga right here on Muppet Central.

    The Muppet universe we have today is indirectly--or directly--a result of this failed transaction. EM.TV bought Henson in February 2000 for $680 million. A month later, they dropped another billion dollars for half of Formula One racing. Sold Henson's stakes in Odyssey and The Kermit Channel in June. In December, after EM.TV's stock nosedived, they sold the Sesame Street Muppets and Henson's small stake in Noggin to Sesame Workshop, then in spring 2001, put the Henson Company itself up for sale. The sales process dragged on and on for about two years, with Disney and other potential suitors kicking the tires. In Dec. 2002, EM.TV announced a deal to sell 49.9% of Henson to a group led by former TV exec Dean Valentine, but that deal fell apart in March 2003. Then finally, in May 2003, the EM.TV saga ended when the Henson Co. was sold back to the Henson family for $84 million. Then the era of transactions came to a close in Feb. 2004 when Henson sold the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House to The Walt Disney Company.

    It was a tumultuous, yet fascinating period in Henson and Muppet history, and I just felt like commemorating it. 'Cause if you're just a casual Muppet fan, or one not much interested in the corporate side of the whole thing, the EM.TV period of Muppet history might have just passed you by.

    If you browse the Muppet Central News archive between 2000 and 2003, you'll find a bunch of articles on the subject, and get a sense of what was happening then, and how long it took. For context, EM.TV put Henson up for sale in spring 2001 and finally sold it in May 2003. In the time it took this German company to sell the Muppets, Sept. 11 occurred, and we launched invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The world is crazy around me, but I still wanted to know what was going to happen to The Jim Henson Company. Weird couple of years.

    Now here are some of the more important links, in case you're curious, or like me, just bored.

    "German firm pursues Henson ownership":

    "EM.TV buys Henson":

    "Letter to Henson employees":

    "For EM.TV, a Muppet mission accomplished":

    "EM.TV sells Sesame Street Muppets":

    "Muppets may be sold to highest bidder":

    "Henson's future cloudy with EM.TV":

    "Eisner watches for Muppets chance":

    "EM.TV says Henson will be sold":

    "Crisis buffets Muppets, who seek new home":

    "Four suitors are in pursuit of Henson":

    "Disney set to bid for Muppets":

    "EM.TV to sell 49.9% of Henson to Dean Valentine":

    "EM.TV calls off Valentine sale":

    "Disney in talks to buy Muppets":

    "Eisner confirms Disney could buy Muppets soon":

    "EM.TV sells Henson back to Henson family":

    "Letter to Henson employees":

    "Hensons: 'Enough was enough'":
    backpackmina and Phillip like this.
  2. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I like that we had merchandise and that one Christmas movie in that period. Didn't so much like anything else about the ownership.
  3. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Well-Known Member

    And hey, there was MuppetFest.
    Phillip likes this.
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I never quite understood the EM.TV deal myself . . . but then again, Germans Love Bert and Ernie.

    Even though they weren't included.
  5. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Well-Known Member

    The Sesame Street Muppets were included in the EM.TV deal. It was EM.TV who sold them off in late 2000 to Sesame Workshop to raise some cash. Thanks to EM.TV, Henson's primary role in Sesame Street nowadays is basically just building the puppets.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    You know, you got to give them credit for that. While it's a shame Henson's properties are all split up, I'm very happy that SW has control over its own characters. I'm sure a lesser company would have just kept them and would beep charging SW to use their own characters. After all, wasn't that the reason why the Disney deal fell through when Jim tried to sell them? The fact that they were more interested in the highly money making, always on the air Sesame Street characters?

    I got to admit, EMTV wasn't all bad, they just weren't that great.
  7. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Well-Known Member

    I notice the title of the thread has been changed, which is fine. Although EM.TV didn't buy "Sesame Street," it bought The Jim Henson Company, and in turn The Muppets and the Muppets of Sesame Street. Heck, "EM.TV: 15 Years Later" would have sufficed. :)

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