Lionsgate Launches U.K. Unscripted TV Production Company Primal

Mat Steiner, Adam Wood’s credits include ‘Release the Hounds’

Lionsgate Launches U.K. Unscripted TV Production
Courtesy of Lionsgate

Lionsgate is adding to its unscripted production firepower with the acquisition of what’s believed to be a majority stake in Primal Media, a new production house set up by Gogglebox Entertainment founders, format creators and executive producers Mat Steiner and Adam Wood, whose credits include “Release the Hounds.”

Primal will develop and produce unscripted programs in the U.K., as well as work with Lionsgate’s alternative programming team in the U.S., to produce American formats for the British market. Lionsgate will distribute Primal’s content worldwide and will produce formats owned by Primal for the U.S. and worldwide market.

Steiner and Wood’s credits include U.K. formats “Release the Hounds” (ITV2), “Cash Cab” (ITV), “The Code” (BBC1), “Playing It Straight” (C4), “Man v Fly” (GSN/The Sun), “Plain Jane” (MTV Intl.), “Singing in the Rainforest” (Watch), “Move Like Michael Jackson” (BBC3), “The Exit List” (ITV) and “Breakaway” (BBC2). Their formats have sold across the world, amassing over 15,000 episodes and winning multiple awards, including six Emmys and a Royal Television Society Award for best entertainment show this year for “Release the Hounds.”

Primal has already secured its first two commissions with a greenlight for a third season of “Release the Hounds,” a gameshow in which contestants enter a scary wood in search of hidden money, and a second season of “The Code,” a quizshow in which players must unlocked a safe full of cash, both for next year.

The acquisition marks another step in Lionsgate’s continued push into unscripted programming. In the past year, the company has formed a strategic alliance with leading U.S. reality producer Pilgrim Studios, and has developed a growing in-house slate from its alternative programming division, including “Kicking & Screaming” (Fox), “Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian” (E!), “Monica the Medium” (Freeform), “Douglas Family Gold” (Oxygen), and “Tracks” (Spike).

“As Lionsgate’s Television Group expands its capabilities in the unscripted market, Mat and Adam are the perfect addition to our growing family of first-rate reality companies and best-in-class producers who are developing formats with global reach,” Lionsgate Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs said.

“The deal is a win-win as it provides Mat and Adam the support they need to grow Primal Media while enabling Lionsgate to enhance our footprint in the U.K., to expand the pipeline for our U.S. business, and to access a fabulous library of product that can be distributed worldwide.”

“We have a lot of respect for Mat and Adam, who are among the most prolific and successful unscripted producers in the U.K.,” Lionsgate UK chief executive officer Zygi Kamasa said. “As we grow the Lionsgate UK presence in television, we are very pleased to bring in such a well-respected and talented team as the one at Primal Media.”

“We are very excited to be working with Kevin, Zygi and the entire Lionsgate team, both in the U.K. and the U.S.,” said Steiner and Wood. “While Lionsgate is a global player in the television space, it continues to have an entrepreneurial spirit that aligns perfectly with what we are trying to accomplish as we develop Primal Media into a major player creating both entertainment and factual entertainment formats with global appeal.”

The deal was negotiated by Laura Kennedy, executive VP, TV operations and corporate development for Lionsgate, Alexandra Keen, executive VP, business and legal affairs, Lionsgate UK, and Malcolm Murray, Lucy Strauss and Jeremy Gawade at Lee & Thompson (representing Lionsgate), and Michael Brader and Medwyn Jones at Wiggin (representing Primal).