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Zodiak pledges $50m for US push

MIPCOM: Zodiak Media will invest as much as US$50m to grow its business in the US in the coming years, as its plans to double the amount of revenue it draws from the States.

Speaking in Cannes, Jonny Slow, CEO for Zodiak Americas – a new division that was set up this summer – said the international prodco was “not even scratching the paint on the surface of the opportunity” in the US.

“Our group revenues at the moment are made up of US-originated production revenues of less than 10%,” said Slow. “Our plan and our target is to double the amount of revenues we make, as a percentage of that total, to 20% over the next three years.

“It’s quite a big challenge, but we think we can do it by investing more into content, more into the origination of content, not just in the US, but in the rest of the world, focused at the US.”

Slow said one of Zodiak’s priorities for the US market is to do more scripted programming, pointing to Syfy’s version of UK supernatural drama Being Human as the only example of a Zodiak-produced scripted series in the US right now.

He also said Zodiak plans to expand its online division Zodiak Active to the US for the first time: “We have a significant business, which is based in Europe in the digital area. It currently has revenues of around US$50m, but has no presence in the US. I’ve been in LA for about a month – it’s very obvious there is a tremendous opportunity for a digital business in America. So that’s something that we’re going to focus on beginning to roll out in 2013.”

Slow, who was appointed to his current role in July, when the Zodiak Americas division was established, also said the firm is looking to do more in Canada. Zodiak Americas was set up to bring together Zodiak’s existing production businesses in North, Central and South America.

“We have built this group by hiring the most talented people and by acquiring. We are going to allocate as much as US$50m of capital to grow our business in the US that way – maybe more if it’s required. The message is we’re very serious about it and it’s a high priority for us as a group. It’s the highest priority of capital allocation for us over the next two to three years,” said Slow.

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