Scripps eyes UKTV web shows following Poland deal
By Kate Bulkley
For Broadcast October 08, 2015
UKTV joint owner Scripps Interactive Networks has earmarked an initial $1m to create original web commissions for TVN, the Polish broadcaster it bought earlier this year.
Scripps believes that if the commissions are successful in bringing in new audiences to TVN, it would look to roll out more web shows to its other markets, including to UKTV in the UK.
“TVN has the scale in the Polish market to be able to experiment with something like this,” said Jim Samples, president of international for the US company.
“Not only do I believe this will be a successful business in its own right, but I think it is an outstanding model for how TV can and will evolve in Poland and around the world.”
Samples says that Scripps is interested in how to apply the lower-cost, higher-volume production model to online digital content that could serve to compliment the linear TV offer.
“Certainly when we find success we will be glad to share the knowledge with UKTV,” said Samples.
The funds will cover five initial productions. First up is a 40 episode order for Fremantle Media to create a Polish version of Lisa Kudrow series Web Therapy (pictured), which will star Oscar-winning Polish actress Agata Kulesza.
The series is budgeted at $30,000 per 20 minutes episode, said Christian Anting, chief strategy officer and managing director of digital and e-commerce for TVN. “We are very focused on creating content that will work with local audiences.”
TVN has also commissioned a Polish version of Lip Sync Battle from producer Golden Media; a 50 x 5 minute order of My First Love and 20 x 10 minute order of Start u Up!, both from Rochstar; and TVN will be the co-commissioner of an original crime drama series called Cape Town from All in Productions at 6 X 45 minutes each.
All original commissions will be exclusive to TVN Player for at least a year.
TVN pulled all its long-form content off YouTube three years ago, only offering promo videos. TVN president and chief executive Markus Tellenbach said that the ambition is to “turn the broadcaster into a retailer. That is the vision statement.”
TVN is the second-biggest broadcaster in Poland with 11 channels including its flagship eponymous commercial broadcast channel, which has a 22% audience share.
The TVN Player has doubled the number of registered users to 1.3m in the past year and viewers spending an average 8 hours per month viewing on the platform. The service has 2.5m fans on Facebook.
One in four TVN Player users watched TVN series only online, so Anting is encouraged that the online service is not cannibalizing linear audiences.
Separately, TVN and Samsung will develop dedicated VoD offerings for mobile devices and smart TVs in Poland, where users of Samsung devices will get access to content from TVN’s online platform.
Also announced at Mipcom was that TVN will re-make the Scripps HGTV network format Kitchen Crashers for the Polish market.