IBC2018: New fund will back drama and comedy shorts, announces BBC Studios boss Tim Davie in keynote IBC address.

BBC Studios Chief Executive Tim Davie used his keynote speech at IBC2018 to announce a new fund to back high-end short form projects.

“Always interested in partnerships”: Tim Davie

BBC Studios has partnered with Clerkenwell Films and financing group Anton Corp to fund the premium, high volume drama and comedy shorts.

Davie said the budget for the short form fund was “significant”, but he would not reveal the exact amount.

According to Davie the aim is to deliver engrossing content in multiple episodes across a range of existing and emerging platforms.

Drama indie Clerkenwell, whose credits include Misfits and The End Of The F***ing World, is 48% owned by BBC Studios.

Anton Corp and BBC Studios are existing partners in The Drama Investment Partnership, which invests in premium British drama titles with international appeal

News of the fund comes amid heightened industry interest in short form video. Former Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg announced earlier this month that he had raised $1 billion to invest in a new short form platform.

Elsewhere in his keynote session, Davie announced that Britbox – BBCS’ US SVoD joint venture with ITV – had passed the 400,000 subscriber mark within 18 months of launch. He hopes that the service will pass half a million subscribers by its second birthday.

“We are not trying to beat Netflix in the market, because that might not work,” he joked. “But we saw a brilliant partnership opportunity with [US broadcaster] AMC among ex pats,” he said.

Closer to home is the issue of a potential collaboration with ITV and Channel 4 on an SVoD service to take on Netflix and Amazon.

While Davie admitted that some kind of collaboration was necessary, he hinted that BBC and C4’s public service remit might make a joint VoD venture complicated.

“I’m always interested in partnerships but the UK is different. Public service broadcasting is not without its complexities.”

“But we already have a great record of partnerships with Freeview and now is definitely the right time for a new collaboration. But we’ve got nothing to announce at this point.”