STV takes majority stake in Two Cities Television

Glasgow-based media firm STV Group said its STV Studios business has increased its 25% equity stake in Belfast-based drama production company Two Cities Television to a majority holding of 51%.

STV said it acquired a minority stake in Two Cities in January 2020, with an option to increase its initial stake to a majority position upon Two Cities becoming profitable.

Founded in 2016, Two Cities is led by Michael Jackson, formerly Controller of BBC One and BBC Two, CEO of Channel 4, President of Programming at USA Entertainment and Chairman of Universal Television, and Creative Director Stephen Wright, formerly Head of Drama for BBC Northern Ireland where he commissioned Line of Duty and The Fall.

“Following the initial investment, the Belfast-based company has made significant progress, producing two series of the critically acclaimed police drama Blue Lights for BBC One, with the second series due to air in 2024,” said STV.

“This follows previous success with BAFTA award-winning show Patrick Melrose starring Benedict Cumberbatch for Sky and Showtime.

“Currently, Two Cities has additional high-end drama series secured which will deliver forecast revenue of £55m over the next three years (2024 to 2026).

“The acquisition will support STV Studios on its journey to becoming a 10% operating margin business, but at this stage in the year delivery schedules for commissioned shows have not been finalised and so the phasing of profit across the three years is not yet agreed.

“Additionally, there is a strong development pipeline.”

Stephen Wright and Michael Jackson of Two Cities Television said: “The STV team have been incredible partners.

“The company is beginning to find its feet and we are thankful for all the support from STV Studios in getting Two Cities up and running. Their continued investment and partnership will allow us to develop and grow.”

STV Group CEO Simon Pitts said: “Michael and Stephen have delivered significant creative and commercial success on the back of the standout performance of Blue Lights and there is so much more to come.

“STV’s consolidation of Two Cities is clear evidence of the ongoing success of our Studios strategy of taking minority stakes in high potential production companies. We’re very proud to be in business with Two Cities and look forward to our continued partnership.”

STV Studios MD David Mortimer said: “Two Cities remains a natural partner for STV Studios, producing high-quality drama across the UK and beyond.

“Their brilliant police series, Blue Lights, truly put them on the map, launching to rave reviews and very strong ratings in 2023.

“Two Cities has more work lined up for 2024 and beyond, a strong development pipeline and many exciting projects to come.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Michael and Stephen over the last four years, they are two of the very best in the business. I’m sure exciting times lie ahead.”