British pubcaster Channel 4 has acquired a minority stake in London-based virtual reality start-up Parable Ventures.
The move marks the first investment from the UK pubcaster’s Growth Fund in a content company specializing in VR and 360-degree content. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Parable, which launched earlier this month, will focus its sights on content creation across the entertainment, branded marketing and training sectors. It’s the brainchild of David Wise, former director of programs at The Garden Productions, and Nicholas Minter-Green, former president of Economist Films.
Studio Lambert chief executive Stephen Lambert, who has been appointed chairman of Parable, has joined C4 as a launch investor alongside Passport producer Economist Films. The Economist deputy editor and tech expert, Tom Standage, joins the board as a non-executive director.
Parable’s leadership team also includes television director and film editor Jonathan Rudd, who joins as partner and creative director. Over a 25-year career Rudd has accumulated more than 150 broadcast credits ranging across popular fact-ent series and full-length drama docs, including ITV’s Stockwell and National Geographic’s The Great British Blackout.
The VR company has already completed two 360-degree documentaries for The Economist with watch manufacturer Blancpain. Additionally, advanced conversations for forthcoming projects are underway with several major broadcasters and an array of established on-screen talent.
Channel 4′s Growth Fund, launched in 2014 and headed up by Laura Franses, supports creative UK-based companies to reach the next level. The Fund has now invested in 13 businesses, comprising of Arrow International Media, Barcroft Media Group, Eleven Film, Firecrest Films, Lightbox Media, Popkorn Media, Renowned Films, Spelthorne Community Television, The RightsXchange, True North Productions, Voltage TV Productions and Whisper Films.
“We’ve been watching the VR and AR (augmented reality) markets with interest as they move away from their Silicon Valley roots and increasingly attract the attention of media owners and brands,” said Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham in a statement. “Parable are storytellers first and foremost and present a great opportunity for our Indie Growth Fund to work with a talented team with a bold ambition to break into this exciting new sector.”
“Virtual reality is the most exciting technological media development of the next few years, but its success hangs or falls on creating great content,” added Parable chair Stephen Lambert. “I know David and Nicky well and I have no doubt they will quickly establish themselves as a leading global supplier of engaging innovative VR content, which is why I’m delighted to be involved in this new business as its non-exec chairman.”