MIPTV: Ex-Sony Boss Howard Stringer Launches TV Drama Business With Britain's DRG

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Sir Howard Stringer

The new group, Atrium TV, will produce big-budget drama series for independent streaming platforms worldwide.

Former Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer is getting back into show business.

The veteran executive on Monday announced he is joining a new venture launched by British television group DRG that aims to produce high-end drama series specifically for regional streaming and digital pay TV platforms worldwide.

Called Atrium TV, the group plans to produce 10 drama series over the next five years, all limited six- to eight-hour series budgeted at around $5 million per hour. The customers for these projects will be the dozens of regional streaming and digital pay TV platforms worldwide that are struggling to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

“The demand for high-quality drama is increasing throughout the world as new platforms come online and as new audiences consume their programing in an alternative way to linear TV,” said 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.”

Atrium's model will see individual streaming companies come on board projects on a case-by-case basis. Companies can license individual shows for their territory, invest equity directly in a series for a piece of the future backend or even become an equity partner in Atrium TV itself.

“There will be one member per territory per project, exclusivity will be key, and we won't be competing with one another,” said Jeremy Fox, CEO of DRG and Atrium TV.

Viaplay, the leading independent digital pay TV group in Scandinavia, has signed on as Atrium TV's first regional partner, representing the Nordic territories. Fox says he will be meeting with other local operators this week at the MIPTV market in Cannes and expects to announce further partnerships in the coming days.

Atrium TV currently has three drama projects in development as it is looking to push into production using its new model. The Eagle Has Landed is a drama set around the 1959 moon landing, which has Stephen Kronish (The Kennedys) attached to write. Fandorin, a 19th-century sleuth drama based on the best-selling novels by Russian writer Boris Akunin, is being developed by Simon Ashford (writer on the BBC's The Musketeers). And Saigon is an adaption of the novel by Anthony Grey that spans 50 years of Vietnamese history, from the country's time as a French colony in 1925 to the last U.S. helicopters taking off from the roof of the American embassy in 1975.

DRG will handle world sales on all series Atrium TV produces.

After decades as an management executive, including as chairman and CEO of Sony from 2005 to 2013, Stringer said he was glad to be back in the production business, noting he spent his first 20 years in the business as a documentary producer. Most recently, Stringer served on the executive board of the BBC.

Atrium TV has tapped another veteran executive, bringing on Quinn Taylor, former senior vp movies, miniseries and acquisitions at ABC and formerly head of NBC's longform division, as a creative consultant, based out of L.A.