Bertelsmann starts new Content Alliance in UK

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Fremantle, Penguin Random House UK, BMG and DK launch joint podcast business as part of Bertelsmann Content Alliance UK

Bertelsmann UK content businesses – Fremantle, Penguin Random House UK, BMG and DK – today announced the launch of a new podcast business, as the first major output of their recently established Content Alliance initiative. With the launch of the Content Alliance, Bertelsmann will create new formats and unique marketing opportunities in the UK, establishing an innovative and powerful partner for creative professionals. Bertelsmann invests more than 5 billion euros a year in creative content worldwide.

The new podcast company – named Storyglass – will operate as a standalone Bertelsmann company and will focus on developing and producing podcasts of all genres, complementing the output of each of the businesses across TV, media, books and music in a UK Audio Alliance.

Storyglass was previously a division of Fremantle’s Global Drama department and focused on delivering scripted series. The new business will now produce podcast projects across scripted, non-scripted, documentary, true crime, lifestyle, music and talent-led series for all major podcast distribution platforms.
As market leaders in their own right, Fremantle, Penguin Random House UK, BMG and DK are uniquely and expertly placed to grow Storyglass as a leading player in the UK podcast market. With access to talent across multiple genres, world-class production and editorial knowledge, Storyglass’ slate will benefit from the expertise of the four companies.

Fremantle, BMG and Penguin Random House have already had joint success in the podcasting space, with This Is Spoke – a youth culture series which brings together some of the UK’s most courageous influencers across the music, literature, media, digital and cultural industries. This is Spoke won the 2020 Campaign Publishing Awards ‘Best Podcast’ accolade and is shortlisted at the 2020 British Podcast Awards in the Bullseye Award category. It also was a 2020 Webby Honoree in the Diversity and Inclusion category.

Bertelsmann is currently recruiting for a Commercial Director to run the business and lead strategy and operations for Storyglass. A Creative Director will also be appointed to develop the creative and talent strategy and manage all podcast production.

Baroness Gail Rebuck, Chair of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance UK, commented: “Creativity defines each of these businesses and I am excited to see what this collaboration can produce. Audio has always proved a really powerful tool to connect audiences with great stories, and we are confident that this alliance and the new-look Storyglass will mean we are set up to deliver world-class series.”

Andrea Scrosati, Group COO, Fremantle; Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK; Alistair Norbury, President, Marketing & Repertoire, BMG UK and Carsten Coesfeld, CEO, DK who represent the Board of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance in the UK added: “Podcasting is a fantastic space to test new IP and discover talent. Individually, we have all had success in this space but by bringing our expertise together we are confident in our ambitions to establish Storyglass as a global leader in podcasting production.”

The creation of Storyglass is the first innovation as part of a wider Bertelsmann UK Content Alliance that launched in November 2019 with the aim of supercharging creative collaboration and future opportunities across the four businesses in the UK.

The UK Alliance follows similar initiatives that have launched across the Bertelsmann Group in Germany. A German Bertelsmann Content Alliance which exists between Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, RTL Radio Deutschland, the TV production company UFA, Verlagsgruppe Random House, Gruner + Jahr, and the music company BMG, was launched in February 2019 creating many new and diverse projects.

Julia Jäkel, Chair of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance in Germany added: “We are very pleased about the launch of ‘Storyglass’ as part of the Bertelsmann UK Content Alliance. The success of the German Content Alliance shows the potential of creative collaborations: Within just one year, Audio Now has become Germany’s largest commercial podcast distribution platform and the Audio Alliance the largest private podcast producer with 80 new podcast series with a total of 400 episodes. In addition, the Bertelsmann Content Alliance in Germany launched a number of joint projects which have gained power and momentum through the cross-divisional collaboration. We look forward to many exciting projects in UK and Germany!”

For more details on the Commercial Director role, please contact Helen Firth HFirth@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk

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