Duffy brothers launch indie, partner with Sky Vision

TV industry execs Mike and Tim Duffy (pictured) have teamed up to launch an indie prodco called Ugly Brother Studios, a move which the duo tells realscreen fulfills "a lifelong dream."
January 9, 2014

TV industry execs Mike and Tim Duffy (pictured) have launched an indie prodco called Ugly Brother Studios, landing a food show commission from U.S. net MTV and a development deal with Sky Vision.

Talking to realscreen from LA, where their indie is based, the twin brothers said that teaming up to launch a production company had been “a lifelong dream.”

Mike Duffy was most recently the exec VP at T Group Productions, before which he served as MD of branded content at Electus. Tim, meanwhile, served as Spike TV’s senior VP of original series, having been with the U.S. network for nearly a decade.

Ugly Brother’s launch projects include a series for MTV called House of Food, and a three-project development deal for as-yet-undisclosed titles with Spike TV. The MTV show is billed by the network as being “a one hour, weekly docuseries that combines the exciting real-life competitive elements of culinary school, with the dramatic setting of a house reality show.”

In addition, the duo has signed a two-year development deal with Sky Vision, the distribution division of UK pay-TV network BSkyB, to develop, produce and distribute reality and factual entertainment series and formats aimed at the U.S. and international markets. The deal is a first-of-its-kind for Sky Vision.

“We’ve talked a lot about this over the years, and everyone that we’ve worked with has always known that, one day, we would join forces and start our own company,” Mike explained of the decision to team up with his brother.

“But we wanted to make sure we had the relationships, the skills and the track record to really do it in a smart way, incorporating everything we’ve learned over the years into a company that provides great content but also has awesome working relationships with our network partners.”

He added that his experience as a producer, combined with his brother’s years as a network exec, would result in shows that “communicate with both sides of the TV-making equation.”

The duo left their respective jobs in the second half of 2013. The plan to launch a prodco had been a long held one, but as Tim explained: “We wanted to finish what we had started in our respective parts of the business.

“I spent nearly 11 years as a network exec – and nine and a half at Spike – and I wanted to honor the relationships I had at Spike and get as good as I could possibly get as a network executive.”

Ugly Brother’s first commission, for MTV, pre-dates the Sky Vision deal, and will be a coproduction with T Group – Mike’s former employer. Subsequent commissions over the next two years, however, will be made in co-operation with Sky Vision.

In a statement, Sky Vision MD Jane Millichip said: “This deal gives both parties the opportunity to create exciting and commercially relevant programming on an international scale. Our aim is to deliver the very best in programming and formats developed in conjunction with Ugly Brother for international broadcasters.”

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