EXCLUSIVE: Claudia Rosencrantz and Adrian Woolfe, two TV industry veterans who turned Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? into a global phenomenon, are launching a CNN-style entertainment news network as an offshoot of their Studio 1 production outfit.
The duo have gone live with LIT across YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and are pitching the U.S.-focused channel as a destination for social media savvy youths who are hungry for a sideways take on news involving their favorite TV, movie and music stars, and online influencers.
LIT is currently broadcasting live for an hour every weekday, but the ambition is that, within the next three years, it will ultimately evolve into a 24-hour rolling news proposition with operations around the world. As well as broadcasting on social media, LIT is in discussions with most major platforms about distribution, and it has already partnered with Indonesian streamer Kaskus.
LIT is housed out of London, but has signed up three U.S.-based hosts — Bradford How, Sloane Glass and Ruba Wilson — to anchor its coverage, which will consist of breaking news, scoops and original reporting on the lives of the rich and famous. A team of 28 is working on the channel, which has been pulled together remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. They were originally planning to launch from LA, but coronavirus changed all that.
“It’s actually bonkers what we’re doing. What we’re doing is not just remote, but it’s live and remote and so over the past six weeks, we have been piloting on a daily basis live,” Woolfe said. “Over the course of the coming weeks and months we will ramp up the number of hours.”
LIT launches with seed funding and is currently raising a second round of finance, running to several million dollars, from a variety of backers, including financial institutions and strategic investors. The channel is aiming to make the majority of its revenue from what Woolfe described as “brand partnerships.”
Rosencrantz, who was responsible for commissioning the Idol, Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! franchises during her tenure at ITV, said LIT is born out of her obsession for celebrity. She and Woolfe believe that there is a gap in the market for a youth-centric entertainment news brand, and bringing “gravitas to trivia” will be LIT’s USP.
“We want to treat the world of celebrity as if it’s Watergate,” she said, adding that LIT reporters will specialize in digging into the social media lives of superstars. She gave an example of a piloted story, in which the team took a tabloid tale about David Beckham fronting a Netflix cookery show, and delved into his Instagram history to reveal that he’s not actually a culinary whizz.
“If you look back at the stuff we have done, there has always been an element of taking things that are quite conventional and being disruptive [with them],” Rosencrantz told Deadline. “We’ve really dug into the place where this comes from to bring intelligence, journalism and comedy to an area that already generates so much conversation. It’s been fun.”
Rosencrantz and Woolfe met more than 20 years ago through the development of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. Rosencrantz commissioned the show for ITV, while Woolfe was instrumental in growing the format into a global brand as the managing director of Celador International.