×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jon Avnet and WIGS Partners Launch Digital Studio Backed by ITV, WPP

Former News Corp digital chief Jon Miller joins board as non-executive chairman

The trio of filmmakers who launched digital studio WIGS — “Black Swan” exec producer Jon Avnet together with his son Jake Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia — have formed a new venture: Indigenous Media, backed by British broadcaster ITV and global advertising giant WPP.

Indigenous Media will produce original content for digital and emerging platforms worldwide as well as branded content, centered on scripted half-hour and hour-long series. WPP and ITV will contribute advertising and distribution expertise, and Indigenous Media will focus on creating original entertainment properties.

WIGS, one of the first YouTube-funded channels, has produced several female-centric series, including “Blue,” about a mother with a secret life as a call girl starring Julia Stiles. Originally launched on YouTube, “Blue” and other WIGS series have subsequently launched on Hulu and Fox.com.

Joining Indigenous Media as non-executive chairman is Jon Miller, former digital media chief of News Corp., who is a partner with Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital. In addition to ITV and WPP, investors in the venture include Advancit; Steven Tisch; Michael Price; and Dr. Aaron Stern. Indigenous Media declined to disclose funding raised to date.

“Having a distribution entity and production entity under one roof, that’s unique,” Jon Avnet said in an interview (pictured above left, next to Jake Avnet and Garcia on the right). “We think we can build this out into something bigger,” noting that in addition to scripted dramas Indigenous Media will delve into comedy and other genres.

WIGS will continue to operate its partnership with Fox Broadcasting, while Indigenous Media will contribute additional financing for future productions. “We’ve been impressed with Jon and Rodrigo’s ability to tell compelling stories and the intensity of consumer appetite for the series on Fox verticals, Hulu and YouTube,” Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, Fox’s SVP of multiplatform programming, said in a statement.

According to Jon Avnet, shortly after the launch of WIGS, Peter Tortorici, CEO of WPP’s GroupM Entertainment Global, approached the studio about forming a new studio for scripted content on digital platforms.

Commented Tortorici, “Jon, Rodrigo and Jake have been first-movers in executing at the highest levels of scripted content in this space and have the means, relationships and commitment to take their efforts to scale. We look forward to helping them get there.” GroupM Entertainment oversees intellectual-property development, financing, production and distribution with a global portfolio of more than 120 properties.

Paul Buccieri, chairman of ITV Studios U.S. Group and ITV Studios Global Entertainment, added, “Indigenous is a forward looking, multiplatform provider of premium content, and as such, is a perfect strategic fit for ITV.”

For ITV, the investment in Indigenous Media is its second in a U.S. digital studio in as many weeks, coming after the announcement of its funding in Believe Entertainment Group, which produces digital series like the animated “The LeBrons” and Jay Mohr’s game show “Money Where Your Mouth Is.”

CAA was the adviser on the transaction for the Indigenous founders. The company is based in Culver City, Calif.

Jon Avnet’s producing and directing credits include “Black Swan,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Risky Business” and FX series “Justified.” Garcia (above right) credits include HBO’s “In Treatment” and “Big Love” as well as “Last Days in the Desert.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Ronan Farrow book Catch and Kill

    Ronan Farrow Inks Podcast Series Deal for 'Catch and Kill' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ronan Farrow is launching a podcast offshoot of his best-selling book “Catch and Kill.” Slated to premiere in November, “The Catch and Kill Podcast With Ronan Farrow” will feature new audio material and interviews with people Farrow interviewed about allegations involving sexual misconduct of media industry figures including Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer — and [...]

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • Parker Posey

    Parker Posey Stars in 'Hunted,' First Podcast From Dick Wolf and Endeavor Audio (EXCLUSIVE)

    Parker Posey will star in prison-break thriller “Hunted,” the first podcast from Endeavor Audio and Dick Wolf’s Wolf Entertainment. Posey (“Dazed and Confused,” “Scream 3,” “Superman Returns”) will star in the scripted podcast series alongside Brandon Scott (“13 Reasons Why,” “Dead to Me,” “Grey’s Anatomy”). In the eight-episode show, U.S. Deputy Marshal Emily Barnes (Posey) [...]

  • Snapchat

    Snapchat Grows to 210 Million Daily Users, Surpasses Q3 Revenue Expectations

    Snapchat is growing again, and getting better at monetizing all those eyeballs: The service ended its fiscal third quarter with 210 million daily active users, compared to 203 million at the end of Q2, its corporate parent Snap Inc. revealed as part of its earnings release Tuesday afternoon. Snap Inc. generated some $446 million revenue [...]

  • Fire TV News

    Amazon Launches Ad-Supported News Video App

    Amazon officially announced its long-rumored ad-supported news video service Tuesday. The new service will be available on Fire TV devices as well as Fire tablets, and rely on videos from publishers including CBS News, Reuters, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, People, Cheddar and others. News coverage served up through the app includes livestreams as well as on-demand [...]

  • Marvel-SiriusXM-podcasts

    Marvel Creating 'Substantial' Number of Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM

    Marvel’s Wolverine, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Star-Lord — and potentially more characters down the road — are getting their own podcasts on SiriusXM and Pandora. SiriusXM and Marvel Entertainment announced a multiyear pact under which Marvel will create a “substantial amount” of exclusive podcasts for SiriusXM and Pandora, including both scripted and unscripted series and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content