STV Studios becomes majority shareholder in high-end scripted production company, Two Cities Television
- Increased equity stake from 25% to 51% accelerates STV Studios’ growth plan and is materially earnings enhancing
- High-end drama producer has secured revenues of £55m over next 3 years across multiple series
- Investment will help underpin Two Cities’ growth and strengthen STV Studios’ position as leading Nations & Regions producer
STV Studios is pleased to announce it has increased its 25% equity stake in the high-end drama production company, Two Cities Television (“Two Cities”), to a majority holding of 51%.
STV acquired a minority stake in Two Cities in January 2020, with an option to increase its initial stake to a majority position upon Two Cities becoming profitable. Following the initial investment, the Belfast-based company has made significant progress, producing two series of the critically acclaimed police drama Blue Lights for BBC One, with the second series due to air in 2024. This follows previous success with BAFTA award-winning show Patrick Melrose starring Benedict Cumberbatch for Sky and Showtime.
Currently, Two Cities has additional high-end drama series secured which will deliver forecast revenue of £55m over the next three years (2024 to 2026). The acquisition will support STV Studios on its journey to becoming a 10% operating margin business, but at this stage in the year delivery schedules for commissioned shows have not been finalised and so the phasing of profit across the three years is not yet agreed. Additionally, there is a strong development pipeline.
Founded in 2016, Two Cities is led by Michael Jackson, formerly Controller of BBC One and BBC Two, CEO of Channel 4, President of Programming at USA Entertainment and Chairman of Universal Television, and Creative Director Stephen Wright, formerly Head of Drama for BBC Northern Ireland where he commissioned Line of Duty and The Fall.
STV Studios is one of the UK’s leading producers of scripted and unscripted content and Scotland’s largest production group, with stakes in multiple production companies across the UK. It acquired Greenbird Media’s expansive network of independent production companies in July 2023, significantly increasing the number of creative labels in the STV Studios family to 24 and its portfolio of returning series to nearly 40. STV Studios is responsible for a wide range of scripted and unscripted series such as AppleTV+ drama Criminal Record; prison drama Screw; Bridge of Lies; Celebrity Catchphrase; The Hit List; A&E After Dark; LEGO Masters; Antiques Road Trip; and The Travelling Auctioneers.
Stephen Wright and Michael Jackson of Two Cities Television said: “The STV team have been incredible partners. The company is beginning to find its feet and we are thankful for all the support from STV Studios in getting Two Cities up and running. Their continued investment and partnership will allow us to develop and grow.”
Simon Pitts, Chief Executive of STV Group plc, said: “Michael and Stephen have delivered significant creative and commercial success on the back of the standout performance of Blue Lights and there is so much more to come. STV’s consolidation of Two Cities is clear evidence of the ongoing success of our Studios strategy of taking minority stakes in high potential production companies. We’re very proud to be in business with Two Cities and look forward to our continued partnership.”
David Mortimer, MD of STV Studios, added: “Two Cities remains a natural partner for STV Studios, producing high-quality drama across the UK and beyond. Their brilliant police series, Blue Lights, truly put them on the map, launching to rave reviews and very strong ratings in 2023. Two Cities has more work lined up for 2024 and beyond, a strong development pipeline and many exciting projects to come. I’ve really enjoyed working with Michael and Stephen over the last four years, they are two of the very best in the business. I’m sure exciting times lie ahead!”