ITV is said to be mulling a joint venture arrangement with the BBC by acquiring the 50% of British broadcaster UKTV that is currently owned by Discovery. BBC Studios (formerly BBC Worldwide) already holds the other 50% of the company and has an option to buy the Discovery stake which it would then immediately sell to ITV, according to The Telegraph. The parties are not commenting the report that the rivals are considering the deal which would make them partners in the £1B venture. Terms would be required to be agreed by the end of next week, the report said. Although the BBC and ITV are fierce competitors, they successfully launched U.S. streaming service Britbox in 2017 and joining hands on UKTV is seen as a means to bolster the homefront against the U.S. tech giants. UKTV is comprised of a mix of 10 free-to-air and pay-TV channels and has a free streaming service. It’s also recently made an expanded move into originals.
Chinese streaming platform Youku has secured rights to the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia. Owned by Alibaba, Youku will cover all 64 matches of one of the globe’s biggest sporting events, including livestreams, on-demand videos and highlights. Youku becomes the second Middle Kingdom digital player to enter a Cup deal with China Central Television. China Mobile’s Migu Video said last week it has a similar pact. CCTV is the exclusive broadcaster of the tournament for 2018 and 2022 and this is the first time it has agreed to license live digital rights since the 2010 Cup in South Africa. Although the Chinese footie team has not qualified for the tourney since 2002, the sport is very popular there. European players have been wooed by big paydays to the Chinese Super League (although a mega-deal to bring over Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta recently fell apart when he opted to go to Japan instead) and several UK and European clubs have Chinese investment. According to reports, Youku expects over 1B Chinese to tune into the World Cup which runs June 14-July 15.
October Films has launched production services company, October Studios. Based in the UK, the new company will be run by Steve Murphy and Josh Wilkins and will offer multiple studios, standing sets, costume and prop stores, as well as budgeting, scheduling and production input for all levels of scripted and reconstruction content. Together with a wide supply of American props, vehicles and on-screen talent, October Studios also has one of the only full-scale standing Oval office film sets outside of North America. The company says it will be targeting producers in the U.S. with support services at a very competitive rate. The facilities have already been used by such international producers as Anomaly Entertainment, Arrow Media, Raw TV, Talos Films and Representational Pictures. Wilkins was previously Head of Operations (U.S.) for October Films and before that was VP Production for Discovery’s internal scripted division in New York and Head of Production for Nutopia. Murphy’s recent exec producing credits include The Killer Beside Me and Home Alone for Investigation Discovery, as well as the Serial Thriller trilogy. October has enjoyed a period of substantial growth over the last three years, significantly increasing its turnover, hours in production and client base in both the UK and U.S. The company is currently in production on multiple series for Channel 4, the BBC, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel and Lifetime.