'Storage Hunters' Producer Joins Forces with British Reality TV Veterans

Jenny Daly

Jenny Daly's T Group, makers of 'Storage Hunters,' links up with 'Hell's Kitchen' producer Natalka Znak and 'American Idol' maker Simon Jones to pitch formats to U.K. broadcasters

In a further sign of broader consolidation on the reality TV front, Santa Monica-based T Group Productions, makers of Storage Hunters, is joining forces with Znak&Jones, the British shingle operated by reality veterans Natalka Znak (Hell’s Kitchen) and Simon Jones (American Idol).

The co-production agreement, announced Dec. 10, will see Jenny Daly's T Group co-develop original reality formats with as well as adaptations of U.S. shows, to pitch directly to broadcasters in the U.K..
The British market is one of the most lucrative worldwide for reality TV and a proven testing ground for new formats that go on to become international hits.

T Group's Storage Hunters, which airs on truTV in the U.S., is a hit on Brit network Dave, where it is the channel's most successful show. Dave recently ordered 10 original episodes of the auction series, which T Group is producing with All3Media's North One Television. T Group's reality format Mystery Diners also airs in Britain, on the Food Network UK.

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Znak&Jones launched in September and have a major pilot deal in place with leading U.K. commercial network ITV for a new take on classic game show format Name That Tune. The company, which have offices in L.A. and Atlanta as well as London, also have a distribution partnership with Sky Vision, the world sales arm of European pay-TV giant Sky. Sky is also a backer of Znak&Jones.

“Both Natalka and Simon have an incredible production history in the UK and have earned the trust and respect of international commissioners, ” said Daly in a statement. “They’re the perfect company to partner with as T Group expands original production in the UK market.

Znak added that she and partner Jones are “huge fans of Jenny Daly and T Group” and that the company's shows “a perfect fit for us and the sheer energy of the company is an inspiration to us.”

The tie-up is only the latest in what has been a flood of corporate deals in the reality TV space, driven by the desire of national players to achieve global scale. This year has seen a phenomenal number of acquisitions and co-production deals, most prominently the three-way mega merger of 21st Century Fox's Shine Group (Biggest Loser) with Dutch reality giant Endemol (Big Brother) and Apollo Global Management's Core Media Group (American Idol).

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John Malone's Liberty Global and Discovery Communications also signed a pact to buy All3Media, one of Europe's biggest reality producers, for $930 million, and ITV has gone on a reality TV buying binge, scooping up non-fiction hit makers, most recently buying Pawn Stars producer Leftfield Entertainment.

FremantleMedia has not been idle, with numerous deals this year, including the acquisition of a controlling stake in Sally Ann Salsano's 495 Productions (Jersey Shore) and the signing of a co-development agreement with Dutch game show master Dick De Rijk, creator of Deal or No Deal.

Twitter:@sroxborough

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