Former Sony Chairman Howard Stringer; DRG CEO Jeremy Fox; and MTG EVP/Head of Programming and Content Development Jakob Mejlhede have hatched Atrium TV. Billed as a “commissioning club,” the aim is to create premium drama content for delivery by regional OTT players and telcos, helping them to compete with broadcasters and global SVOD services.
Based in London and Los Angeles, the team will identify and develop suitable projects, sharing them with Club members who then decide if they wish to invest. If they buy into a project, the members will be able to license the series for their territory and will have the right to exploit it in their local market. Sales in the rest of the world will be handled exclusively by DRG.
There will be only one Club member per territory with MTG’s Viaplay the first to sign up, representing the Nordics. Atrium is at MIPTV in Cannes meeting with other potential partners.
Atrium intends to order “a number” of high-end series over the next five years and has outlined three projects which are currently the most advanced.
First up is The Eagle Has Landed with Stephen Kronish (24, The Kennedys) attached to write the script for air in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. Fandorin, based on the novels by Boris Akunin, is being developed by BBC Studios, with a script by Simon Ashford (The Musketeers, Robin Hood) about a late 19th-century detective often described as the Russian Sherlock Holmes. And, Saigon, based on the novel by Anthony Grey, tells a story spanning 50 years of Vietnam’s history from the French colonial days of 1925 to the last helicopter from the roof of the American embassy in 1975.
Stringer says, “The demand for high quality drama is increasing throughout the world as new platforms come on line and as new audiences consume their programing in an alternative way to linear TV. Atrium helps these new platforms compete with broadcasters and global SVOD players by offering a creative solution for them to offer big budget drama to their subscribers.”
Fox adds that a “great way for local players to compete in their own markets is to share the cost of developing and producing high profile series. That’s the key aim of Atrium. We may think of ourselves as a club — but we are keeping the rules to a minimum. We are all about finding great stories with universal themes and concepts that work specifically in the OTT space. We are encouraging approaches from producers and are especially keen to hear new ideas based on historical novels or major world events.”
The venture is somewhat reminiscent of Benchmark Television, the indie commissioning entity recently launched by BBC Worldwide, Access Entertainment and Lookout Point. There, straight-to-series funding will be underwritten by BBCWW and Access.
Atrium TV also said today that former ABC and NBC exec Quinn Taylor has come on board as creative consultant in Los Angeles.