With the way that we consume media rapidly changing, there has been a noticeable shift in the broadcast media industry. As production companies move away from legacy networks and towards online, interactive streaming services, traditional broadcasters face an uphill battle against the ever-evolving technological landscape of media consumption. Yet with change comes opportunity. Investors are being drawn towards a vast number of opportunities within a dynamic and rapidly expanding sector. As such, we’ve taken a closer look at the five largest investments in the UK’s broadcast media industry over the past three years. Do these investments mirror the growing consumer preference for online streaming services?
The Ink Factory leads the way
The largest investment is a massive £136 million investment into The Ink Factory, the film and television production company behind the BBC hit success The Night Manager. This transformative investment came from a joint funding between The Ink Factory’s first round investors Archimedia and production company 127 Wall Productions in November 2017. While they do produce digital content, the majority of The Ink Factory’s success came from their production of The Night Manager, airing through television network broadcasters. This indicates that these channels still hold significant sway with regards to attracting investment.
The best of the rest
Next on the list is a £31.3 million investment by Barclays Corporate Banking and Pemberton Capital Advisors into growth-stage company Cinesite in January 2018. Despite being less than a quarter of the £136 million secured by The Ink Company, this still comes in as the second highest investment into a UK-based media broadcast company in recent years. Cinesite is a visual effects and feature animation studio that offers its services to both film and television. Having recently merged with Vancouver-based visual effects company Image Engine and acquired animation company Nitrogen Studios, Cinesite are clearly one to watch for the future. They currently do work on behalf of VOD services as well as broadcasting channels.
Not far behind Cinesite’s investment is a £30 million equity backing secured in June 2017 by Blue Zoo. Funded by Zhong Ze Culture Investment Group, this was Blue Zoo’s first investment since the initial grant they received back in 2012. Blue Zoo create high-quality animation for children’s television programmes. A large portion of their portfolio work is for online content, but like Cinesite, they also have clients in broadcast and commercial channels.
Dial Square 86 is a prime example of how tech companies are disrupting the broadcast media sector. By operating through their subsidiary, The RightsXchange (TRX), this venture-stage company helps market and distribute television licensed TV content. TRX is an online platform which media companies can use to buy and sell content. By providing the industry’s first B2B online marketplace for television distribution, Dial Square 86 are emblematic of the disruption that technology is having on broadcast media. Their relevance in the industry is evident through their £5.2 million investment 18 months ago, which currently sits as the fourth largest in the industry.
Bad Wolf Productions is a script production company based in South Wales, London and LA. Their £5.18 million equity backing, courtesy of Access Services in March 2017, sits in fifth place on our list. It is worth noting that this came just five months before Bad Wolf raised a further £3.21 million through HBO and Sky, giving them a very healthy £8.39 million of investment that year.
The future of broadcast media?
What becomes immediately evident from looking at these deals is that investment interest in traditional broadcast channels is certainly not waning as the popularity of their VOD counterparts rise. Conversely, by far the largest investment that broadcast media has seen in the UK went to a key provider of mainstream analogue television, and this came just over four months ago.
It seems that, contrary to the belief that online streaming services pose a threat to the traditional means of viewing television, it seems that the emergence of new viewing trends and digital development is having a positive effect on the industry as a whole. Instead of pitting different broadcast mediums against each other, these areas of the sector appear to be working in tandem. For example, a big reason why production companies remain an attractive prospect is because of the popularity and global reach of online streaming services such as Netflix. However, if these production companies also make content for broadcasting networks, then the investment would benefit both sides of the sector.
Most would agree that the future of media broadcast belongs online, yet investment trends show us that good old network broadcasting is not done yet. Far from it.