Sky will begin distributing the international rights to its original commissions after acquiring Parthenon Media Group.
Under the terms of the buy-out, Parthenon’s chief executive officer Carl Hall will take point on selling Sky’s content internationally, reporting directly to Sophie Turner Laing – Sky’s managing director of entertainment, news and broadcast.
In a move that will likely see BBC Worldwide executives suffering long, sleepless nights, Sky’s venture into distribution will allow it to significantly increase the revenue it creates by selling its most popular shows and films overseas.
Turner Laing said the acquisition was a “natural step.” Sky will start to increase the number of original commissions its making in the independent market.
“We are producing world class television – innovative, creatively ambitious and, in many cases, on an epic scale,” she said.
“It’s only right that we match this with world class aspirations for how we take this content to as wide an international audience as possible.”
Working independently, Parthenon have a healthy business model; they reported a turnover of £11m and pre-tax profits of £2.1m for the 12 months to April 2011, and Parthenon reported gross assets of £18.2m on 30 June. It has to date specialised in factual content with shows like Crime Town USA, but it seems likely they will now represent independent commissions and high-end dramatic series as a result of the buy-out.
Sky will encourage the titles it commissions to use its distribution arm as part of the deal, although projects funded by Sky will not be forced to distribute through what was Parthenon.
Hall added: “Over the past ten years, our success has been built upon our unique, boutique-style approach to all our content providers. The [distribution division] will also open new and exciting opportunities for international producers looking to benefit from the support of one of the UK’s largest investors in original content and a global leader in the provision of world-class television.”