BBC Worldwide is teaming with Len Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment and Lookout Point to launch Benchmark Television, a new indie commissioning entity that will be able to greelight scripted TV series without backing from a network or platform.
The partners said the new venture will be able to offer top writing and producing talent a new avenue into the production sphere with an independent funding model. Benchmark won’t produce directly. Instead, it says it will commission from third-party producers and writers full straight-to-series funding underwritten by BBC Worldwide and Access Entertainment.
The aim is to greenlight a major series in the coming months and the company said “early conversations with globally recognized talent” had already begun.
Former BBC chief Danny Cohen, who recently joined Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment as President, will chair a group formed of Helen Jackson, Chief Content Officer of BBC Worldwide, and Simon Vaughan and Faith Penhale, joint CEOs of Lookout Point. The group will develop, select and oversee the commissioning process, with global rights managed in partnership with BBC Worldwide.
Lookout Point, the outfit behind War and Peace and Ripper Street, which is 49% owned by BBC Worldwide, will be responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of Benchmark, working closely with Access and the BBC to harness the combined team’s relationships.
“This is a ground-breaking partnership that delivers a new model for drama production and financing,” said Cohen. “We believe it will excite producers and writers and provide a new route to market for scripted series. We will be seeking premium-quality projects and will provide the resources to get blue-chip drama into production for audiences to enjoy around the world.”
Access Industries founder and Chairman Blavatnik said: “This innovative partnership will finance and produce world-class scripted television for audiences around the world. Access Entertainment plans to work with the world’s very best writers and producers over the coming years and invest significant capital in television production.”
Vaughn added: “Now is the right time to give the world’s foremost writers and producers another way to get their series made with maximum freedom and support. We are offering a new and dynamic model that will benefit talent, networks and audiences.”