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Sky, Channel 4 back TV rights venture TRX

Dial Square 86 Limited, the holding company for The RightsXchange Limited (TRX), has confirmed that pay-TV broadcaster Sky and UK public service broadcaster Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund have invested in the company’s latest financing round, which will raise up to £5.2 million (€6.03m) for TRX.

TRX is a new global online deal-making tool that enables TV rights buyers and sellers from around the world to connect and complete licensing deals entirely online. It enables distributors to reach buyers in new international markets, who in turn gain access to British, American and other TV rights that would previously have been difficult to secure.  It soft launched in Asia last month and already has in excess of 5,000 hours of programming available from key UK and US distributors and rights holders such as Sky Vision, Discovery Communications, All3Media International, Hat Trick International and Sesame Workshop.

Sky and Channel 4 will each take an undisclosed minority stake in Dial Square 86, which was established in 2014 by former independent producer RDF Media founders and Zodiak Media executives, David and Matthew Frank. This funding round also includes investment from private individuals (many of whom have participated in previous rounds). TRX has an Advisory Board of key industry figures including John McVay, CEO of UK production sector trade body PACT, Stephen Lambert, founder and CEO of Studio Lambert and Nadine Nohr, former CEO of Shine International.

The deal marks the first time Sky and Channel 4 have co-invested in a start-up. The partnership with TRX is the latest example of Sky taking equity shares in innovative companies, enabling the exchange of new ideas and insights. Sky’s production and distribution arm, Sky Vision, will also use the TRX deal-making tool, helping to develop its suite of enterprise tools and grow the TV rights market. It is the latest digital business venture for Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund, led by Laura Franses, which is using its £20 million facility to back this valuable resource for indie TV rights holders and thereby supporting the future health of the UK indie sector.

“We are absolutely delighted that two of the UK’s leading content players with such reputations for innovation and excellence have decided to back what we are doing,” said David Frank, CEO Dial Square 86 Limited and Chairman TRX said. “There is real momentum behind TRX now and we’re excited about launching a truly global product that can make programme distribution faster and easier while opening up the TV rights market to previously disenfranchised buyers and delivering extra value to rights holders.”

“This latest investment reflects our ambition to partner with pioneering start-ups that can help transform the TV landscape,” added Emma Lloyd, Group Business Development Director. “We’re delighted to be backing such an innovative UK-based company, with its roots firmly in the creative sector. Together with Channel 4, we can help TRX to grow the TV rights market, which will benefit everyone in the industry.”

David Abraham, Chief Executive of Channel 4 said that in post-Brexit Britain, it is even more important for the UK’s creative industries to have access to innovative ways of trading across the globe. “We recognise that the new TRX tool is a valuable online resource which will enable indies to connect with the world and export their programmes in a digital marketplace and will help support a buoyant UK indie sector well into the future.”

On TRX, entire TV rights licensing deals can be completed securely online. TRX aggregates rights from multiple rights holders in one place making it easier for buyers to find the right programmes for their audiences and make offers to acquire programmes. TRX also provides a suite of enterprise tools which allows sales, legal and delivery teams to collaborate on and manage complicated deals.

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