Digital Dealmakers: Alec Shankman — Shaping the Then, and The Now, for the Future of Video

Alec Shankman may not be with a big agency like CAA or a WME, but he’s a major player in the streaming video space. As SVP and head of alternative programming, licensing and digital media at Abrams Artists Agency in Los Angeles, he oversees a roster of influencers that includes pop culture vlogger Jack Baran (ThatsSoJack), physician “Doctor Mike” Varshavski, DIY-er Jimmy DiResta and lifestyle/beauty/fashion creators Andrea Brooks, Amy Pham, Breland Emory and Mr.Kate. He’s also been major force in the reality TV world, representing personalities from such shows as A+E’s “Duck Dynasty”, Discovery’s “Gold Rush,” Lifetime’s “Dance Moms”, Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Nat Geo’s Wicked Tuna.”

VI: Sometimes a deal’s a deal, but what are the deals that make you most excited about the business?

AS: On the digital front, I get most excited about deals where we can help expand the businesses of influencer clients into a variety of new areas. For example, with Mr Kate, I have helped to expand her into licensing (i.e. LampsPlus deal), TV ( i.e. OWN and HGTV), merchandising (stay tuned for details), personal appearances (i.e. Macy’s, Nordstrom Rack, Sprint, etc) and so on. With regard to reality TV, I’m very proud of many deals, such as the talent deals for the cast of Discovery’s #1 series for 6+ years, Gold Rush, which is one of the biggest shows on TV; and the deal that moved the Robertson family from Outdoor Channel to A&E for the launch of “Duck Dynasty”, which is one of the biggest shows in the history of TV.

VI: Has there been anyone you consistently turn to for dealmaking advice or inspiration?

AS: Harry Abrams has been wildly influential in shaping me into the agent I am today. He is a true pioneer.

VI: The industry is changing so rapidly but by most standards it’s still very early, how does that impact your deals?

AS: The digital business is still very much at its infancy so the biggest issue is just the need to keep an eagle eye on the ever-changing landscape, as well as to make sure to do everything possible to help guide the evolution of each sector when possible.

VI: What do you think has made you a great dealmaker?

AS: An ability to evolve. No one model is going to win anytime soon. We are going to be in the midst of many different options for many different people for a while as the industry evolves.

VI: If you could point to one industry myth, which would you point to?

AS: That TV is “dead.”