British multi-channel broadcaster UKTV has launched a new innovation arrangement and ramped up its investment efforts in original programming after reporting a revenue growth last year of 8% to £345 million (US$443 million).
The Innovation Fund – a partnership with Channel 4′s Commercial Growth Fund – has been designed to “unlock incremental revenue streams” that will enable UKTV to make multi-million-pound investments in high-growth firms and obtain equity stakes in businesses in return for advertising airtime.
The first deals are expected to be announced later in 2017.
The British broadcaster also revealed that it had invested US$196 million in content and related launches in the year prior, with plans to increase its original entertainment programming output in 2017.
New unscripted formats and series on tap include TwentyTwenty’s tentatively titled Davina (8 x 60 minutes), a primetime series hosted by Davina McCall set to explore contemporary issues each week for its W network; and IMG Media’s cinéma vérité docuseries Into the Fire (20 x 60 minutes, w/t), in which West Midlands firefighters are strapped with helmet cameras as they head into the heart of the fire, for its Really channel.
UKTV’s ongoing commitment to increase investment in original content will also see the broadcaster bringing back 16 returning UKTV Original series in 2017 for subsequent seasons, doubling the number of renewed series on the network from 2014 to 2015.
“Over the last three years we have increased UKTV’s profit by over a third, by investing smartly in UKTV Originals and making sure our shows are accessible to viewers on all major digital platforms,” said UKTV CEO Darren Childs (pictured) in a statement.
“Looking ahead, I believe there is great headroom to continue to grow share in our channels’ business, but we are also broadening our focus,” he continued. “We will invest more in VOD because our new advertising deal makes investment in on-demand services attractive.”