Channels group UKTV has teamed with Channel 4 to launch a multi-million pound innovation Fund that will see it invest in high-growth businesses in the UK.
Issuing its latest financial results, BBC Worldwide and Scripps-backed UKTV said it sank £151.2 million (€181 million) into original production last year and will increase the investment this year.
The Innovation Fund will be run in partnership with Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund. UKTV said it will invest and take equity stakes in business in return for advertising airtime on UKTV channels (Channel 4’s 4 Sales sells UKTV ad slots). The first Innovation Fund deals will be announced this year.
“Even during a turbulent year in the ad market, the business continues to deliver double digit profit growth,” said UKTV CEO Darren Childs. “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 multi-million pound investment in high-growth potential businesses, to generate new revenue streams.”
The expanded slate of originals, meanwhile, includes Porters, a three-part comedy for the Dave channel from Dan Sefton, the creator of Delicious. There will also be a new Davina McCall series, Davina, two-part comedy Murder on the Blackpool Express from Tiger Aspect / Shiny Button Productions and for Gold, and fire service ob doc series Into the Fire, from IMG Media.
In terms of 2016 performance UKTV ended the year behind only ITV in terms of share of commercial impacts in the UK market. The Dave and Drama channels were the top two non-PSB channels in the UK.
“Looking ahead, I believe there is great headroom to continue to grow share in our channels’ business, but we are also broadening our focus,” Childs said. “We will capitalise on the growth of UKTV Originals and build original entertainment… we will invest more in VOD because our new advertising deal makes investment in on demand services attractive.”
UKTV posted full-year revenues of £344.8 million and EBITDA profit of £91.3 million. That equated to healthy growth over the £319 million and £82 million recorded respectively a year earlier, although those year-on-year increases were not as high as in the 2015 financials.
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