Sources tell us that Sony is close to taking a significant stake in Eleven, beating a host of potential suitors who were keen to partner with one of the hottest pieces of production real estate in the UK.
Deadline understands that production groups including All3Media looked at Eleven during a competitive situation. Rumors have also been rife in the UK that Netflix cast an eye over the company, even though the streamer has previously denied that it is getting into the acquisitions game.
Sony will buyout Channel 4’s 20% stake in Eleven after the British broadcaster first invested in the company in 2014 as part of its Indie Growth Fund initiative. It’s not yet clear if Sony is taking a minority or controlling stake in Eleven.
Once the investment is complete, it will be the second Growth Fund producer Sony has partnered with this year after it took a minority stake in sports production company The Whisper Group in February.
Eleven was founded by creative directors Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson in 2006 and it makes both high-end drama and factual programming, including Sky’s The Enfield Haunting and Channel 4’s The Secret Life Of The Pub.
Sex Education is its biggest calling card and the drama has become one of Netflix’s most-watched shows after launching last year. Starring Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield, Season 3 was meant to begin filming in May, but has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Deadline hears the Eleven has a number of high-profile projects in the pipeline and is currently working on Red Rose, a BBC Three horror drama created by twins Michael and Paul Clarkson, which has been picked up by Netflix in the U.S. It is also making Tom Hiddleston political thriller White Stork for the U.S. streamer.
The company’s most recently-filed earnings for 2018 do not contain revenue figures, but in a submission to trade magazine Broadcast’s Indie Survey, Eleven said its turnover was £15M ($19M) last year. This was a 275% increase on its revenue of £4m in 2016.
Sony Pictures Television has been on something of a spending spree in recent months under Wayne Garvie, its London-based president of international production. As well as Whisper, the Hollywood studio acquired Octonauts producer Silvergate Media for just under $200 million last December. It already owns companies including The Crown and Quiz producer Left Bank Pictures.
Sony declined to comment on the Eleven investment.