The makers of hot cable show Duck Dynasty have just cashed out. British television giant ITV announced today that it’s expanding its U.S. production arm ITV Studios America with the acquisition of Gurney Productions. ITV is paying $40 million for a 61.5% controlling stake in Gurney Productions, best known for Duck Dynasty as well as Auction Hunters, American Digger and Haunted Collector. ITV also has a put and call option to buy the remaining 38.5% which can be exercised from 3 to 5 years after the initial deal. “Gurney Productions is a high margin business with three quarters of its revenues coming from returnable series. The company’s EBITA for 2012 is forecast to be at least $10M,” ITV said Saturday. Gurney Productions will report directly to Paul Buccieri, Managing Director of ITV Studios International and President/CEO of ITV Studios America. Further, Gurney Productions’ revenues will be included in ITV Studio’s international revenues starting in 2013. Sources said the maximum total consideration payable by ITV is $111M, depending on the performance of Gurney Productions over the next 3 to 5 years and payable only if Gurney continues to deliver significant growth. ITV Studios America already produces
Downton Abbey‘s UK broadcaster ITV reported its interim results today with the group’s external revenue up 4% to £1.57B ($2.49B). Non-net advertising revenue was up 15% to £730M ($1.16B), driven by production arm ITV Studios, maker of such programs as Hell’s Kitchen and the upcoming Mr. Selfridge with Jeremy Piven. ITV Studios is expected to turn a profit of over £100M ($158.7M) for the year “and the number of new commissions and recommissions already secured for 2013 gives us confidence that there will continue to be good underlying growth in the Studios business,” boss Adam Crozier noted.
Continuing its five-year transformation plan, the company says total cost savings this year will be about £30M ($47.6M), or £10M ($15.87M) ahead of target. The advertising market has been “broadly flat,” Crozier said.
Earlier this week, Deadline reported that the four main contenders in the bidding for Dick Clark Productions are CBS, CORE Media Group and private equity firms Guggenheim Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners. On Tuesday, Sky News reported that UK broadcaster ITV is also kicking the tires of the Golden Globes producer and has hired Barclays to advise on its interest. Such a move would fall in line with comments ITV boss Adam Crozier made in December of 2011 when he hinted that ITV may be in the market to buy an American production company. Crozier is part-way through a five-year transformation plan at ITV which includes wiping down £612M in debt and creating “world class content” to be exploited at home and abroad across multiple platforms.
ITV, which airs, but does not produce, Downton Abbey and Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent, has been spreading its wings with in-house production including the upcoming Jeremy Piven series Mr. Selfridge via its successful ITV Studios. The group’s recent half-year results boasted growth across all business areas. At the time those results were announced, ITV also said it had acquired Norwegian production company Mediacircus and entered a development and production partnership with Israeli broadcaster Reshet. Still, the chances of a successful bid for DCP have met with some skepticism. According to …
UPDATE: Just after announcing half-year results this morning, ITV said it has acquired Norwegian production company Mediacircus and has joined forces with Israeli broadcaster Reshet in a strategic development and production partnership. The moves fall in line with the company’s transformation plan as it aims to build a strong international content business. Mediacircus, which will become part of ITV Studios Nordic, produces factual and documentary programming. It currently produces the ITV Studios format Come Date with Me. Reshet develops and produces original drama and entertainment formats including Comedians At Work, Step Family and The Money Pump. Among its original dramas are A Touch Away, which has been licensed by HBO, and Life Is Not Everything, licensed by Sony Studios. Sharon Gelbaum-Shpan will head the venture’s Israeli office.
PREVIOUS: ITV chief exec Adam Crozier’s 5-year transformation plan at ITV is still underway and “gaining momentum.” The broadcaster reported its half-year results on Thursday morning with growth across all business areas. External revenues were up 10% to £1.13B with big increases at ITV Studios,
ITV boss Adam Crozier is still pushing his way through a 5-year transformation plan at the network home of Downton Abbey. In a first quarter results report this morning, ITV said it had external revenues of £565M for a 13% increase over the same period in 2011. Crozier noted that ITV Studios, the production arm of the network, had done particularly well with revenues up 61% to £212M. The net, which airs Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent, was down 2% in viewership. That show has been locked in a ratings battle with BBC1′s The Voice, although it’s recently pulled ahead. Crozier said, “We remain confident in our schedule with Euro 2012 in June and a strong Autumn line up.”
The UK’s ITV has announced a new 10-part drama series in a move that looks to build on the mega-success of its Downton Abbey. Mr. Selfridge will trace the life of the flamboyant and visionary American entrepreneur, Harry Gordon Selfridge, who created the famed London department store Selfridge’s. Contrary to Downton, which is made by NBCUniversal’s Carnival Films, Mr. Selfridge will be an in-house ITV Studios production. Created by writer Andrew Davies (Brideshead Revisted, Bridget Jones’ Diary), Mr. Selfridge is set in London in 1909 at a time when wealthy women were enjoying a new sense of freedom. ‘Mile a Minute Harry’ wanted to indulge, empower and celebrate these women; making shopping as thrilling as sex, according to ITV. Based on the book Shopping, Seduction And Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead, the series will shine a light on hidden moments of the history of women through fashion, cosmetics, technology and domestic affairs. Production starts in April in London with the series to air in 2013. Chrissy Skinns is producer with Kate Lewis executive producing. Jon Jones will direct. ITV is currently out to cast an American actor in the lead role.
Deadline contributor Tim Adler files this international report:
Simon Cowell will return as one of the judges on next year’s Britain’s Got Talent, ITV boss Adam Crozier has confirmed. The X Factor impresario will resume his seat on the talent show following the recent exits of judges David Hasselhof and Michael McIntyre. Speaking to press this afternoon in London, the ITV boss also hinted that ITV Studios may be in the market to buy an American production company, pointing out that the U.S. is the second-liveliest market for independent TV producers apart from the UK. For now though, Crozier is concentrating on wiping out the £612 million worth of debt he inherited by year’s end. “When you inherit something that isn’t working, the worst thing you can do is start bolting things on,” he said.
Adam Crozier, CEO of UK broadcaster ITV, has suggested making viewers pay for extra content, such as alternative endings. At one point he talked about charging Brit TV viewers to watch hugely popular soap Coronation Street first online, but rowed back from that. Crozier was speaking at the Royal Television Society international conference in London this afternoon. Everything on ITV.com is free at present. Crozier said his top priority is to invest in ITV.com, which he said had been woefully underfunded. The ITV boss reiterated that 50% of revenue must come from pay-TV, online and selling formats overseas, compared with 26% today. He’s not interested in making shows available on content aggregators such as Hulu though. TV commissions will be influenced by how they translate online, he said. “The first thing we need to turn is turn ITV.com into a really robust site,” said Crozier, who joined ITV as CEO in April. Increasing the amount of programming produced in-house by production arm ITV Studios is another priority. In-house only accounts for 47% of programme commissions, he said – and drops to 16% if you strip long-running soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale out. ITV is looking to acquire independent production companies to beef up ITV Studios. “We need to focus on more long-running renewable series,” he said. “Owning more rights is key to our future.” Crozier said that ITV’s historic problems haven’t stemmed from not knowing what to do but “a …
The broadcaster has flatly rejected press reports that it’s planning to halve the 1,400 staff at its London South Bank HQ over the next few years. Or that more jobs will go among the 2,600 ITV staff members elsewhere in Britain and Europe. Announcing CEO Adam Crozier’s appointment in January, chairman Archie Norman said ITV’s priority was change “not cost reduction”. “That scale of job losses is certainly not on the agenda,” the broadcaster tells me. Talk that ITV was planning swingeing job losses surprised the City. Paul Richards, media analyst at Numis, tells me he doesn’t think there’s a pressing financial reason for heavy job losses right now. ITV’s debt load has come down as it emerges out of recession and the ad market picks up. “ITV is in a much stronger financial position than it was,” says Richards. “If there is a significant headcount reduction then it would be because Crozier and Norman think they can do the same job with fewer people.”
The broadcaster’s shares have risen for two days in a row following City speculation that the US network wants to buy ITV. Its shares have risen 10% to 55p. Dealers heard through the City grapevine that one UK broker has been buying up chunks of stock on behalf of an American client. There has even been gossip that NBC has agreed to buy BSkyB’s remaining 7.5% share-holding in ITV. And the ubiquitous Simon Cowell has been linked to this mystery US buyer. Cowell said he’s been asked by various people in the States as to whether he would be interested in putting together a joint bid for ITV. Of course it could all be silly season nonsense. But the five-year restructuring plan unveiled by ITV chairman Archie Norman, ex-CEO of Asda/Wal-Mart, and his CEO Adam Crozier has left analysts underwhelmed. The struggling broadcaster still looks cheap and vulnerable to a US bid. “It’s easy to get the spivs to get share prices going with August rumours because trading is so thin,” says this morning’s Times of London. “It would be no surprise if Mr Norman’s plan turns out to be fixing it up and selling it to the Americans – just as he did with Asda and Wal-Mart.”
The UK’s biggest private broadcaster is expected to announce that it’s taking high-definition versions of spin-off digital channels behind Sky’s pay-wall. Although audiences for HD versions of ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 are small, CEO Adam Crozier is planting a flag for the future. Eventually all TV channels will be high-definition, which means ITV could become subscription only.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that ITV is interested in buying Virgin Media’s 50% stake in UKTV, the pay-TV channels it runs with BBC Worldwide. UKTV runs 10 channels, including the popular Dave, which repackages recent BBC comedy shows. UKTV made £27.2 million profit in the first six months of 2010. Matthew Horsman of TV consultancy Mediatique envisages ITV putting its best older programmes together with recent BBC output, becoming a “Best of British” offer.
ITV is due to announce its half-year results tomorrow morning. RBS predicts that ITV will have an extra £120 million available to spend on programming on the back of operating profits rising to £156 million ($247 million) compared with just £46 million this time last year. Revenue is expected to have increased 9% to £995 million, says RBS.
As Deadline/London predicted, ITV has not directly replaced Rupert Howell as commercial managing director. Instead, it has appointed Fru Hazlitt as managing director of online and commercial. ITV says its decision to create a new job, uniting airtime sales and online businesses, stems from its ongoing strategic review. Possibly it also thought it could save money by hiring one person to replace two. Hazlitt was most recently CEO of radio company GCap Media until it was sold two years ago. Before that, she worked for Yahoo as managing director of its UK business and, before that, European commercial director. ITV’s current online MD Ben McOwen-Wilson will leave the broadcaster this summer along with Howell. What’s interesting is the top three jobs at ITV are now held by industry outsiders: Chairman Archie Norman, CEO Adam Crozier and now Hazlitt all come from outside the TV business.
BSkyB is reportedly closing in on buying UK cable operator Virgin Media’s TV channels. These are entertainment channel Virgin 1, Living, Bravo and Challenge. Mostly they just show American imports such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Grey’s Anatomy and Blade. However, the deal’s significant because Virgin 1 has a slot on the hugely popular Freeview digital terrestrial TV service. BSkyB could then rebrand the channel, and use it to promote its Sky TV pay-TV service. BSkyB is understood to be offering around £150-160 million ($217-232 million) for VMTV.
There are those inside VMTV for whom the idea of selling to BSkyB – Virgin’s bitterest rival – sticks in the throat. They would rather VMTV be sold to either Time Warner or ITV for less money. Time Warner tried to buy VMTV last year, but BSkyB offered £40 million more than either Time Warner or Viacom were prepared to pay. New ITV boss Adam Crozier has talked about how sorting out the broadcaster’s pay TV proposition is right at the top of his in-box. Buying the Virgin channels would save him from having to take existing ITV channels behind a pay-wall. But ITV doesn’t have enough cash to buy VMTV outright; it would have to be a share swap or asset trade.
Virgin agreed to sell the channels to BSkyB in principle last September. Since then there’s been protracted negotiations over what Virgin must pay BSkyB to carry its former channels …
Adam Crozier, CEO of ITV, will likely step in to the shoes of Rupert Howell, who’s lost his job as Managing Director of ITV Brand and Commercial. After all, Crozier’s background is advertising (he used to work at Saatchi & Saatchi), and ITV chairman Archie Norman also comes from a commercial background. Given that Kevin Lygo is pretty autonomous as head of ITV Studios, and Peter Fincham has his own empire as director of television, Crozier wants to ring-fence an area of his own, one senior industry source tells me. Crozier’s press statement talks about how closely he wants to work with advertisers. “Why wouldn’t Crozier want to talk to his biggest advertisers directly, without this layer of management in the way?” my source says. “There’s an opportunity for him to be hugely influential in monetizing the airtime.”
ITV has signalled that it is looking for a new creative leader to run in-house production arm ITV Studios. Lorraine Heggessey, CEO of production company Talkback Thames, and Channel 4 television director Kevin Lygo are two names being talked about. Current ITV Studios boss Lee Bartlett is expected to be moved sideways.
What to do about ITV Studios will be right at the top of incoming CEO Adam Crozier’s in-tray when he starts work this morning.
His predecessor Michael Grade trumpeted that he wanted ITV Studios to provide three quarters of all ITV’s programming. By law independent producers must supply the rest. Instead, the percentage of programmes supplied by ITV Studios has declined. In 2005 ITV Studios provided 66% of the network’s schedule. Last year that fell to 47%.
“ITV Studios has been drifting for the last 15 years, haemorrhaging great people and losing bit by bit to indies which are simply better and more efficient,” says one former ITV executive. “ITV has been muddling on with in-house production declining each year.”
Insiders complain that production has always been undervalued. ITV cut the amount of money it invested in programmes by £20 million last year.
A look at ITV Studio’s current slate does not inspire much confidence, another insider tells me. It’s the usual mixture of “celebrities” – and I’m using the word in the broadest sense here – cooking, skating or being stranded in …
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: Analysts tell me that the biggest challenge facing incoming CEO Adam Crozier is sorting out ITV’s digital channels. The UK’s largest non-BBC channel has started a 12-week strategic review across its business, including what its pay TV future should be. The way things are now, all of ITV’s channels are currently available free-to-air, which means that ITV just survives on advertising. But its nemesis BSkyB has 3 income streams by comparison. (Not only does it carry advertising, but people pay subscriptions to watch BSkyB. And it also makes money by selling its popular Sky One entertainment, sports, and movie channels to cable rival Virgin Media.)
Paul Richards, analyst at Numis Securities, told me that ITV could even turn its flagship ITV1 into a pay TV channel. “When you’ve brought in a new chief executive and chairman, you’re going to explore all the options,” Richards said. He thinks the likelihood is that Crozier will turn ITV2, 3, and 4 channels subscription only after he starts work in April. “They’ve got to reduce their dependence on advertising revenue,” agreed one TV executive I spoke to. But consultant Claire Enders of Enders Analysis said that according to her models, ITV would end up making less money if it charges Sky and Virgin Media for carrying its programs. Making ITV a pay TV channel would mean fewer advertisers, Enders told me.
Adam Crozier is currently Chief Executive of Royal Mail Group and will assume his ITV role later this year, the UK’s biggest commercial TV network announced today:
Archie Norman, Chairman of ITV Plc, said: “I am thrilled that Adam is joining us as Chief Executive. ITV is a strong brand with talented people, facing an imperative for change as the media landscape evolves. Adam is a very strong leader with a great track record in delivering transformational change. He has worked successfully in talent-driven organisations, with government and regulators, and has a thorough understanding of the media, advertising and branding industries.