ITV buys stake in US studio

LONDON - ITV has acquired a minority stake in Electric Farm Entertainment, a US digital content studio led by the creators of global hit TV show Afterworld.

The investment, through ITV's US-based production outfit Granada America, is part of ITV's strategy to increase its production business in the US as part of a wider bid by ITV to own and create more content.

The deal involves an initial payment of $2m for a 10% equity stake and an option to acquire a controlling shareholding at the end of 2008.

Electric Farm Entertainment is a digital studio that develops content across multiple platforms. The company principals, Stan Rogow, Brent Friedman and Jeff Sagansky, together created Afterworld.

Current and upcoming projects include internet sci-fi show Gemini Division and the internet thriller comedy Woke up Dead.

Lee Bartlett, managing director of ITV Global Content, said: "I'm attracted to this company because it is specializing in scripted direct-to-internet programming that is economically produced but creatively engaging. These projects have worldwide appeal to audiences and advertisers alike, with the potential to grow on to other platforms including TV."

Paul Buccieri, president and chief executive of Granada America, said: "Electric Farm Entertainment is a leader in the development and production of high quality and compelling content that can translate from new media platforms to traditional media outlets.

"I have tremendous respect for Stan, Brent, Jeff and their team and this new venture will significantly expand our company's capabilities in monetising new media opportunities."

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