Media swoop

STV boosts production output with Greenbird deal

The Hit List is one of Greenbird’s productions

STV has acquired Greenbird Media, producer of The Hit List and Late Night Lycett, in a £24 million deal that aims to accelerate growth of the Glasgow broadcaster’s production business.

The acquisition will make STV Studios one of the largest production groups in the UK and is a major step towards its stated objective of becoming the UK’s No.1 nations & regions producer.

Greenbird network companies are behind hit shows such as LEGO Masters (C4, Fox in the US), The Hit List (BBC One), Animal Casualty 24/7 (C5), The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan (BBC Two), Late Night Lycett (C4) and Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing (BBC Two).

Its portfolio includes majority stakes in leading unscripted companies Crackit Productions and Tuesday’s Child and minority positions in 13 other producers.

STV says the deal, involving an initial payment of £21.4m, not only brings immediate scale and earnings enhancement but also the potential for future growth through consolidation of minorities.

It says it will further diversify its earnings from outside linear broadcasting and drive long-term shareholder value

The acquisition is funded from existing bank facilities. It takes STV beyond its diversification target of 50% of earnings from outside traditional linear broadcasting by end 2023, with estimated out-turn of at least 60%, while keeping the group well within its financial covenants.

Greenbird was founded by television executives Jamie Munro and Stuart Mullin in 2012 and has built the largest independently-owned network of producers in the UK, with an archive of 2,000+ hours of content. This year it will produce over 350 hours of new programming across 25 returning series.

Mr Munro and Mr Mullin will join the board of STV Studios in the roles of chief commercial officer and finance & integration director respectively, working alongside chief operating officer Paul Sheehan under the leadership of Studios Managing Director David Mortimer, with a brief to drive the expansion of STV Studios both in the UK and internationally.

It also holds minority positions in a further 12 production companies, including Rumpus Media (40%), Glasgow-based Hello Halo (30%) and Flicker Productions (40%), offering significant scope for future consolidated growth.

STV said it now expects to comfortably exceed its diversification target that at least 50% of STV’s operating profit should come from outside linear broadcasting by the end of FY23, transforming STV into a more balanced, resilient media company offering both linear and digital reach, and the creation and ownership of valuable IP in the growing global content market.

STV Studios production labels will more than double from 9 to 24 forming an unrivalled network of senior creative leaders and a significantly expanded forward pipeline of new programme ideas, a number of which have already been greenlit for 2024.

The enhanced scale of the group will allow STV Studios to realise more value from a combined programme catalogue of 5,000+ hours in the distribution and secondary sales markets.

The enlarged STV Studios will also pursue an international growth strategy to generate maximum value from its shows outside the UK and build on the recent success of LEGO Masters (20 territories including UK and US) and Bridge of Lies (16 territories including UK & Spain).

The group will have expanded bases in Glasgow and London, as well as offices in Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester and Brighton, strengthening our ability to take advantage of the continuing strong growth of production in the nations and regions.

STV Studios is also one of the few multi-genre production groups of scale in the UK with the capability to produce high quality programming across scripted and unscripted, with our drama companies delivering three high-profile new series in 2023: the acclaimed Blue Lights for BBC One, series 2 of prison drama Screw for C4, and Peter Capaldi/Cush Jumbo thriller Criminal Record for Apple TV+.

Simon Pitts, STV CEO said: “Growing STV Studios into the UK’s #1 nations and regions production company is one of our core strategic objectives.

Simon Pitts
Simon Pitts: transformative acquisition

“This transformative acquisition represents a major step towards that goal, adding significant scale and creative firepower to the group and immediately accelerating STV’s overall diversification in terms of both revenue and profit.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Greenbird and to welcome their incredibly talented network of creative leaders to the STV family as we jointly aim to grow our production base in the UK and internationally.”

David Mortimer, managing director of STV Studios said “Over the last 4 years we have transformed STV Studios’ creative and commercial performance, so now feels like the right time to take our next big step towards becoming one of the UK’s most successful production groups.

“Over the next few years, we will be making some huge television shows for broadcasters and streamers both here in the UK and around the world, so this feels like an exciting new era for STV Studios.”

Jamie Munro and Stuart Mullin, Greenbird founders, said: “This is an exciting new chapter in Greenbird’s history. We are hugely proud of the Greenbird incubator model we have built. It has given creatives space to flourish and deliver some of the most innovative, entertaining and loved programmes in the UK. Their creative power is unrivalled and has been recognised by viewers, critics, awards panels and through the volume of international sales that their shows have generated.”

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