BSkyB Buys Stake in TV Producer Znak & Jones

Natalka Znak

Focusing on the U.S. and U.K., it is run by the former CEOs of Talpa USA and Zodiak USA

U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB has acquired a stake in recently formed transatlantic TV producer Znak & Jones Productions.

The firm is led by industry veterans Natalka Znak (I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Hell’s Kitchen) and Simon Jones (American Idol).

With offices in Los Angeles, London and Atlanta, Znak & Jones focuses on developing original productions as well as selling and adapting international formats for both the U.S. and U.K. markets. ‎

Financial terms of the BSkyB deal and the size of the company's stake weren't disclosed, but the equity share is understood to be close to 50:50. All finished Znak & Jones programming will now be distributed by Sky Vision, Sky’s growing international distribution business.

Znak & Jones says it has secured a pilot deal with ITV for the classic format Name That Tune and has projects in development with AMC, CMT and XBox.

Previously, Znak served as CEO of Zodiak USA where she was responsible for overseeing the North American operations of Zodiak Media and produced such projects Celebrity Wife Swap and Secret Millionaire for ABC, as well as truTV’s Hardcore Pawn and Lizard Lick Towing. Prior to joining Zodiak, she served as controller of factual entertainment for ITV Studios in London, producing such hits as I'm Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Hell's Kitchen and Love Island.

Jones used to be CEO of Talpa Media USA where he established the U.S. office and managed the production operations for formats such as NBC’s The Winner Is … and The Voice. Before his time at Talpa, Jones was COO of Syco USA and ran its media operation for Simon Cowell and Sony Music. There, he was responsible for the global rollout of The X Factor and the Got Talent format. Jones also used to work for FremantleMedia, serving as executive producer on American Idol.

The investment forms part of BSkyB’s strategy to grow a broad, international content business, including production and distribution. It recently also acquired a majority stake in The Great British Bake Off producer Love Productions.

“It’s our goal to develop and produce entertainment for both markets that’s big and bold as well as innovative and fresh," Znak said about the company's focus on the U.S. and Britain.

“The partnership is ideal in that we remain an independent, boutique operation able to best serve our respective broadcaster client needs and, at the same time, have a highly motivated international partner with a global distribution infrastructure necessary to drive a hit show,” said Jones.

Sept. 4, 1:58 a.m. Updated with further deal details.

Twitter: @georgszalai