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Sky, C4 buy into Frank brothers’ digital platform

UK-based pay TV company Sky and commercial broadcaster Channel 4 have both bought into Dial Square 86, the parent company of new rights trading platform TRX.

David AbrahamThe pair have taken an undisclosed minority stake in the Dial Square, which oversees soon-to-launch digital distribution platform. It is the first time Sky and pubcaster Channel 4 have co-invested in a start-up.

Channel 4 invested through its Growth Fund, which has to this point only made investments in production companies. Before making this investment just under half of the £20 million (US$26 million) Growth Fund, which was slated for 2014-2017, was left.

The new funding round that Sky and Channel 4 have joined is for up to £5.2 million for TRX.

Channel chief executive David Abraham said: “In post-Brexit Britain, it’s even more important for the UK’s creative industries to have access to innovative ways of trading across the globe.

“We recognise that the new TRX tool is a valuable online resource which will enable indies to connect with the world and export their programmes in a digital marketplace and will help support a buoyant UK indie sector well into the future.”

David Frank TRXDial Square is run by former Zodiak and RDF boss David Frank. He said: “We are absolutely delighted that two of the UK’s leading content players with such reputations for innovation and excellence have decided to back what we are doing.

“There is real momentum behind TRX now and we’re excited about launching a truly global product that can make programme distribution faster and easier while opening up the TV rights market to previously disenfranchised buyers and delivering extra value to rights holders.”

Emma Lloyd, group business development director, Sky said: “This latest investment reflects our ambition to partner with pioneering start-ups that can help transform the TV landscape. We’re delighted to be backing such an innovative UK-based company, with its roots firmly in the creative sector. Together with Channel 4, we can help TRX to grow the TV rights market, which will benefit everyone in the industry.”

Dial Square’s chief operation is TRX, which has soft-launched in Asia and will roll out globally soon. Discovery Networks International, PBS Distribution and Turner have all taken part in a beta test of the platform. Distributors including Cineflix Rights and Sky Vision, the sales arm of one of its new investors, are also among the beta testers.

It has completed several funding rounds, albeit previously not with such high-profile industry backers, and put together a high-profile advisory board that includes the likes of Stephen Lambert, Nadine Nohr and John McVay.