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ITV Launches Media Business Incubator Studio 55 Ventures

Tim Cross  07 September, 2020

UK broadcaster ITV this morning launched Studio 55 Ventures, an initiative which will see ITV invest in new media businesses geared towards younger audiences. ITV says the startups it invests in will be able to leverage its reach among the 16-35 demographic, in order to get them off the ground. But the broadcaster hopes that in return these businesses will help it remain relevant with these age groups.

Studio 55 Ventures, a collaboration with consulting company Founders Intelligence, will let successful applicants create and scale a new media business within ITV. ITV says these businesses must appeal to younger demographics, and have the potential to reach multi million pound revenues within three to four years.

As VAN has previously reported, we’ve seen a number of broadcasters creating venture divisions aimed at investing in start-ups in recent years as a means of diversifying their revenues.

But most of these have been ‘airtime-for-equity’ deals, where the broadcaster gives the business advertising inventory in exchange for a stake in the company. And these companies are usually chosen because they could benefit from advertising on TV, not because they fit particularly well with the broadcaster’s business model.

But with Studio 55 Ventures, ITV is looking to invest in companies which could influence and shape its core business, and shore up its reach with young audiences.

The broadcaster is not very specific about the types of media business it is looking to foster. The main guidelines given to applicants are that ideas should be unique, and solve identifiable consumer needs. They must also be well placed to leverage ITV’s assets, from its reach among young audiences and wealth of audience data, to its marketing, media and branding assets.

ITV is also clear that it is looking for business pitches, rather than ideas for new shows. “We’re not looking for the next Love Island, we’re looking for a media landscape gamechanger,” says Studio 55’s website. “These could be in the form of streaming platforms, eSport apps or even the next TikTok.”

ITV will initially select eight successful businesses, which will each get £10,000 worth of funding, as well as training and mentoring from ITV executives and Founders Intelligence. At the end of the programme, the businesses will pitch to ITV CEO Carolyn McCall, Quibit founder and CEO Graham Cooke, and co-founder Brent Hoberman for further investment. Any businesses which pass this stage will be developed into a fully scaled business within ITV, and the founders will be put on a salary by the broadcaster.

“Since our beginning in 1955, ITV has created fantastic content which has entertained millions whilst reflecting and shaping popular culture,” said McCall. “We want to continue to do so in the future and Studio 55 Ventures will help us achieve that goal. Investing in people with the passion, vision and drive to ensure ITV remains relevant to younger generations whilst giving us insights into how to evolve in the future is an exciting step forward for ITV.”

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