Sky Takes Full Control Of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ Maker Love Productions

The Great British Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off Love Productions/Channel 4

EXCLUSIVE: Comcast’s European broadcaster Sky has taken full control of Love Productions, the producer behind Channel 4 hit The Great British Bake Off.

Sky took a 70.41% stake in Love Productions in 2014, and now the pay-TV operator has acquired the remaining 29.59% of shares in the Richard McKerrow-founded outfit, as it continues to build its production empire.

Jane Millichip, Sky Studios’ chief commercial officer, said: “Love Productions is a world-class production company that has continued to create popular, thought-provoking and award-winning factual and factual entertainment shows since Sky first invested in 2014.

“We are proud that Love Productions is now a wholly-owned Sky Studios company and we look forward to continuing to work with Richard and the team as we build on their continued success.”

The deal was done in February, according to Love’s 2019 earnings, and followed both Sky and the producer’s directors receiving significantly increased dividends from the Bake Off business.

Two Love directors received dividends of £4.6M ($5.7M) between them last year, up from the £1.4M split between three directors in 2018. Sky received dividends of £22.7M in 2019, compared with £3.5M the previous year.

According to Love’s earnings for the 12 months to the end of June 2019, the company’s revenue stood at £61.4M, which edged up slightly from 2018’s turnover of £61M.

The company, which also makes ABC’s The Great American Baking Show, posted a pre-tax profit of £22M, which was 9% down on £24.2M in 2018.

Love warned that the coronavirus pandemic will have a “significant impact” on its earnings in 2020 and 2021 because of delays to production. “Existing and new programming will go into production when it is safe to do so,” the company said.

It comes as its tentpole show, The Great British Bake Off, has yet to go into production for Channel 4 this year after filming was due to begin in April. The show was not included in a press pack published on Monday detailing Channel 4’s autumn highlights, suggesting its broadcast could be delayed.

Channel 4 said last month that Bake Off will go into production after cast and crew “agreed to go into quarantine.” Today, a spokeswoman for the show added: “We are working hard to deliver Bake Off to the audience this year, the priority is the safety of everyone involved in the production.”

The program will be co-hosted for the first time by Little Britain and Bridesmaids star Matt Lucas. He will be joined by regulars Noel Fielding and judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

Love said 2019 was a year of “significant investment” after it took larger office space in Bristol, London and Los Angeles. It also appointed Condé Nast Entertainment executive vice presidents Joe LaBracio and Al Edgington to lead its U.S. operation.

Sky’s increased investment in the company comes as it has been on something of a production spending spree in 2020, taking stakes in two drama producers: The Lighthouse and Longboat Pictures.

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