When Top Gear returns in May, it will be followed by new after show, Extra Gear. Rory Reid is set to host with footage, interviews, films and behind-the-scenes access to the revamped motoring series. In the U.S., it will air on BBC America and online in the UK on BBC Three and iPlayer. Reid is one of the new hosts of the main program, alongside Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, Eddie Jordan, Sabine Schmitz and Chris Harris. He was recruited to Top Gear from the 2015 public auditions and has hosted CNET’s Car Tech channel. BBC Worldwide is distributing Extra Gear internationally. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that former Top Gear hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are launching DriveTribe, a website featuring content made by celebrities, professionals and motoring fans. This is separate from the trio’s new Amazon series which debuts in the fall.
Discovery Communications has agreed to acquire a minority stake in RugbyPass, a digital content platform that reaches rugby fans across 23 Asian markets. To further boost the RugbyPass’ offering, select content from Discovery-owned Setanta Sports Asia will be immediately available to all RugbyPass subscribers. Launched in Asia in February by Coliseum Sports Media, RugbyPass will feature Super Rugby, Aviva Premiership, European Champions Cup, British Lions Tour in New Zealand in 2017 and all home games played by England outside the Six Nations as well as all Argentina home games. The launch of RugbyPass in Asia comes during a boom time for the sport, including World Rugby’s deal with Chinese broadcaster Alibaba, the return of Singapore to the World Rugby Sevens circuit and the inclusion of Japan’s Sunwolves in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
Endemol Shine Group and Korea’s CJ E&M have entered a major international partnership which will see the two companies jointly create, produce and distribute original formats and series for the global marketplace. Endemol Shine Group will bring its resources in development, production and distribution to the partnership, while CJ will share its regional capabilities in content creation and production. All revenues from IP created under the deal will be shared equally between the partners. The partnership is led by DJ Lee, President of Media Contents Business at CJ, and Fotini Paraskakis, Managing Director of Asian Operations at Endemol Shine Group. The companies are already investing in the co-development and production of an original unscripted series, which CJ has committed to broadcasting in prime time on one of its flagship channels and which ESG will sell internationally. CJ produces and airs a local version of ESG’s Masterchef, which is currently in its fourth season. ESG also recently licensed CJ’s I Can See Your Voice for distribution and adaptation outside of Asia. CJ’s other recent international deals include licensing Better Late Than Never to NBC and a creative option agreement with ITV Studios for The Genius Game.
FremantleMedia has invested in Squawka, a London-based football (soccer) media company. Fremantle will take a 35% share, with options to increase in the future, making it the largest single shareholder in the digital business. Squawka, which was launched in 2012 by founders Sanjit Atwal and Leo Harrison, uses its proprietary technology to visualize millions of football data points which form the basis of editorial and social media content. It reaches over 5M fans worldwide on a daily basis; its content was viewed over 2B times in 2015. The investment complements The Football Republic, a multi-platform network run by Shotglass Media, FremantleMedia’s UK digital studio. The companies will work together to create new editorial strands using Squawka’s data and content with TFR’s fan base. Fremantle has increasingly invested in digital media with a majority share in Divimove and a partnership with Jukin Media to grow The Pet Collective.