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‘Commissioning club’ Atrium TV launched  

MIPTV in Cannes was the scene of the launch of Atrium TV, a new business specifically established to create premium, high profile drama content for delivery by regional OTT players and telcos.

Positioning itself as a ‘commissioning club, Atrium TV is the brainchild of some of the biggest names in the media business: Sir Howard Stringer, former chairman of Sony and former president of CBS; Jeremy Fox, CEO of British distributor DRG and Jakob Mejlhede, EVP and head of programming and content development at MTG.

“The demand for high quality drama is increasing throughout the world as new platforms come on line and as new audiences consume their programing in an alternative way to linear TV, noted Stringer. “Atrium helps these new platforms compete with broadcasters and global SVoD players by offering a creative solution for them to offer big budget drama to their subscribers.”

The Atrium team, based in London and Los Angeles, finds and develops suitable projects and shares them with Club members, who then decide if they wish to invest. If they buy into a project, Club members will be able to license the series for their territory and will have the right to exploit it in their local market. Sales in the rest of the world will be handled exclusively by London-based DRG, part of international digital entertainment group MTG.

Exclusivity is the key as there will only be one Club member per territory. Numerous companies have expressed interest in joining Atrium TV, following the lead of Viaplay as the first official Club member, representing the Nordics.  Meetings with other operators are taking place throughout the week in Cannes, following the announcement.

“We are delighted to be founding members of Atrium TV, an exciting new venture that combines the talents of the world’s very best storytellers,” declared Mejlhede. “Audiences today have so much choice, and drama has the power to engage them like no other format. We are therefore thrilled to work together with Club members to create unique experiences for viewers around the world.”

Atrium TV will order a number of high-end drama series over the next five years, working with the very best producers around the world. There are a number of projects in development, with the three most advanced being announced concurrently with the launch.

  • The Eagle Has Landed, an original concept, will air in 2019, which is the 50th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon. Stephen Kronish (24, The Kennedys) is attached to write the script and is currently hard at work on the research.
  • Fandorin, based on the novels by Boris Akunin, is being developed by BBC Studios, with a script written by Simon Ashford (The Musketeers, Robin Hood). Fandorin is a fictional, late 19th-century detective often described as the Russian Sherlock Holmes. The books have sold 25 million copies.
  • Saigon, based on the novel by Anthony Grey, tells a story spanning 50 years of Vietnam’s history from the French colonial days of 1925 to the last helicopter from the roof of the American embassy in 1975.

“We have watched the rapid expansion of global streaming services,” said Fox. “That’s the key aim of Atrium. We may think of ourselves as a club – but we are keeping the rules to a minimum. We are all about finding great stories with universal themes and concepts that work specifically in the OTT space. We are encouraging approaches from producers and are especially keen to hear new ideas based on historical novels or major world events.”

Atrium TV also revealed that Quinn Taylor, based in Los Angeles, has joined the venture as creative consultant. Taylor has 25 years’ experience in international drama, including senior roles at both ABC and NBC.

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