(Photo: David Lyle at the Realscreen Summit, by Rahoul Ghose)
Less than a year after forming its format distribution unit Fox Look, Fox Networks Group is choosing to look at other methods for distributing its own formats and acquiring third-party unscripted product.
In a memo released to Fox Look staff yesterday, president David Lyle wrote, “While we did a great job securing some wonderful Fox-owned and third party unscripted product for distribution, after thorough evaluation and much discussion within Fox Networks Group, we’ve decided there will be better ways for the group to realize the value of our unscripted programming internationally.
“Fox Look will honor all its current contractual commitments and will enthusiastically complete any deals we have in progress before transitioning our catalogue over the coming month to new, as-yet unnamed distribution structures,” he continued.
While there’s speculation that the move has much to do with News Corp’s recent acquisition of Shine Group, which has its own successful format production and distribution business, Lyle told realscreen yesterday that he’s unaware of what “as-yet unnamed distribution structures” are.
“I’m not aware of what they are, and I’m not aware of if other people know what they are,” he said.
Fox Look had struck a deal in September to represent the game show and unscripted entertainment output of Hasbro Studios. Formats from that deal included Family Game Night and Pictureka! The company had also recently announced that it had sold 400 hours of formats and finished programs to international broadcasters, including properties such as The Swan, Beauty & the Geek and Jilted.
“We were in many respects ahead of the business plan,” Lyle told realscreen. “My interpretation is that this is not a judgment on how Fox Look performed, because it performed just dandy in terms of what it set out to do. What it is a statement of is that at Fox Networks Group, they want to distribute material with a different structure or different series of structures.”
For his part, Lyle has been discussing his immediate future plans with David Hill, who now oversees Fox Networks Group’s joint venture with National Geographic Channels. Lyle may become involved in the short term in “assisting in the channel’s production needs in an as-yet unspecified way.”
Lyle will also be heading to MIPTV in April, as he was previously invited to take part in its MIPFormats component. He also told realscreen that the Fox Look team is currently tying up any loose ends caused by the shuttering of the division.
“I would hope that we can finish the way we vowed to run our business, which is fast, efficient and transparent,” he said. “I want to make sure we can tie up all the loose ends for Fox, for our customers, and because that’s the way we should do business.”