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UKTV preps investment pot, ups originals

BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive’s UK multi-channel joint venture UKTV is launching an investment scheme and bolstering its originals slate.

Darren Childs

UKTV is behind channels including Dave in the UK and made the announcements as it revealed its annual results, which showed revenue growth of 8% on last year to £345m (US$442.87m).

The operator plans to launch a “multimillion pound” Innovation Fund later this year in partnership with fellow UK broadcaster Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund, which recently took a stake in Glasgow’s Firecrest Film.

UKTV said the Innovation Fund would be designed “to unlock incremental revenue streams” and to enable the firm to invest in high-growth companies and obtain equity stakes in businesses in return for advertising airtime.

The first deals are expected to be announced later in 2017, with the partnership coming after the company agreed an advertising sales deal with C4. Further details of the fund have not been disclosed.

The operator said it had also invested more than £150m in content and related launches over the past 12 months and would be expanding its originals slate.

Previously announced shows such as talker Davina (working title), from UK prodco TwentyTwenty for its W network, and Murder on the Blackpool Express, from Tiger Aspect for Gold, will launch alongside fellow comedy Porters.

The 3×40’ latter, set in the world of hospital porters and written by Dan Sefton (Delicious), is from UK-based Dancing Ledge Productions and will air on Dave. Yesterday UKTV ordered factual show Into the Fire for its Really channel.

UKTV CEO Darren Childs said that over the last three years the company had increased profits by more than one-third “by investing smartly in UKTV originals and making sure our shows are accessible to viewers on all major digital platforms.

“Looking ahead, I believe there is great headroom to continue to grow share in our channels business, but we are also broadening our focus,” he said, adding that investments were being made in more originals and VoD services.

“This strong performance has allowed us to invest in creative commissions but we want to do more. That’s why in 2017 we are diversifying our business with the launch of the Innovation Fund. This is a significant move for UKTV, as we plan to make a multimillion-pound investment in high-growth-potential businesses to generate new revenue streams.”

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