The Story Lab

The Story Lab

This article was written by Robbie Ashcroft, Entertainment Development Partner, The Story Lab

The Streaming Wars officially kick off in 2020 and will likely define this Entertainment decade.  With Netflix, Prime, Apple TV, Britbox, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max dominating our programming choices. But, where do local broadcasters and brands fit in? How do they operate in this new world?

This week at The Story Lab we have been exploring the new entertainment economy with some of the greatest minds in the UK entertainment industry; legendary on-screen talent, producers, talent managers, commissioners and creative technologists.

We’ve been discussing the role that businesses, brands and talent can play to help bring more original entertainment to our screens.

And if brands want to connect with culture and audiences who flit from one ad free platform to another, they must have a longform content strategy. The Story Lab can help with this.  

Long-form Brand Entertainment on TV can not only deliver against marketing KPIs, the shows can beat slot average and get recommissioned for a second series, and The Story Lab can distribute the format all over the world.

The Story Lab has now licensed an E4 brand format - All-Star Driving School - to broadcasters in Russia, Slovenia & most recently Mexico.

The Story Lab is pioneering a new entertainment economy where brand storytelling is the latest original primetime series that attracts audiences at scale.

In our first session of the week our panel featuring - Clare Balding OBE, legendary broadcaster, journalist and author; Emma Hardy, Channel 4 Head of Commissioning Management and Leon Harlow, YMU Group Commercial Director, Entertainment -  shone a light on how to work together in this exciting economy; discussing how ideas develop from paper to what you see on screens, and how talent passion can drive the commissioning agenda.

Beginning with an introduction from Channel 4’s Alex Bird, we were taken through the different ways AFPs come to be, whether via a bespoke brief (Suzuki’s All Star Driving School on E4) or as a result of partnering with a relevant brand on an already compelling content idea (Extreme Everest with Ant Middleton and Berocca).

How AFPs differ from other media and their key benefits were also discussed; highlighting how the development to brief can allow the format to be closely aligned to key brand messaging, creating the perfect association. With AFP there is also a chance the brand can be much more integrated as opposed to being solely part of a ‘badging exercise’.

Clare Balding commented that brand partnerships give talent the opportunity to work on something much more niche, that traditional broadcasters might shy away from.  She went onto to discuss how as broadcasters they are much more connected with audiences today because of social media and it’s important to look at what people care about and what is important to them to understand how you can connect with the audience and what sort of programming will work.

If you’d like to learn more about brand entertainment opportunities and how to get the most out of them for your brand please contact