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UKTV Ventures invests in Hopster

Hopster offers ad-free family shows such as Thomas & Friends

BBC Studios- and Discovery-owned UKTV has chosen a preschool SVoD service as the first company to benefit from its multimillion-pound investment fund initiative.

UKTV Ventures has made an airtime-for-equity investment in London-based Hopster, which will see it offer the streamer advertising airtime on its channels in return for an equity stake in its business.

Hopster was founded in 2013 and features ad-free family-friendly TV shows such as Thomas & Friends and Sesame Street segments, along with a growing catalogue of songs, books and educational games.

UKTV has also appointed Sheena Amin, formerly of Dixons Carphone, as director of business development and diversification to lead the funding scheme. It was set up last year to invest in burgeoning high-growth companies wishing to access the television advertising market.

Simon Michaelides, UKTV’s chief commercial officer, said: “TV advertising remains the most efficient and effective marketing medium, with the highest spend coming from businesses in the digital sector.

“We’re very pleased to help high potential companies like Hopster gain access to the growth opportunity that TV brings, and we look forward to being part of the growth story for even more innovative, young businesses in the future.”

UKTV currently has more than 100 shows in the pipeline, representing the biggest commissioning slate in the company’s 25-year history. This includes Flack, its first original scripted drama, and Women on The Verge, co-created by Lorna Martin and Sharon Horgan.

The move follows a funding round in Hopster earlier this year which saw Sony build on its investment in the firm.

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