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ITV Studios buying spree to continue, US drama push planned

Kevin-lygo-(October-2010)Kevin Lygo has told TBI that ITV Studio’s aggressive indie buying spree will continue and that the next phase will see it move into the US scripted TV market.

“We’re growing significantly and, internationally, the content acquisition strategy will continue for a while,” Lygo said in an exclusive interview.

Buoyed by the recent strong performance of the ITV broadcast network, content arm ITV Studios has bought into a raft of production companies in recent times. Since Lygo joined the firm in 2010 it has acquired stakes in So Television, Mediacircus, Tarinatalo, The Garden and Big Talk.

Much of the recent activity has been in the US with deals for Thinkfactory Media, High Noon Entertainment and Gurney Productions all agreed since last December. Stateside deals will be the focus of the M&A activity moving forward.

“The focus is the US – there has been a small acquisition in Scandinavia and we keep our eyes on other things, but it’s about the US,” Lygo said. “The appetite for content there is almost insatiable and I think that if you have a good idea now you will get it away.”

Since September ITVS’ Stateside operations have been housed in a freshly minted division, ITV Studios US. It is run by president and CEO Paul Buccieri and Orly Adelson has come on as president of ITV Studios America, joining from Dick Clark Productions.

ITV says the US division is one now of the five largest independent production groups in the US. The number of shows the group is getting away in the US is increasing rapidly with the total rising from 12 across seven channels in 2010 to a forecast 64 shows across 34 channels in 2013.

There are concrete plans to add to production base assembled thus far.

“We will have a continued presence in the US and there will be more acquisitions announced quite soon,” Lygo said. “One significant step will be a move into scripted in the US.”

That will take the form of working with writers and creatives and locking them into deals, rather than buying production companies wholesale, the ITV Studios boss said. The raft of deals it has concluded thus far mean it is seen as a serious player in the US, he added.

Lygo said: “We started at the docs and entertainment end of the spectrum and have done what we said we would, so people are taking us more seriously.”