Jupiter Entertainment splits production services into new company: Knoxville will remain hub for both enterprises

Backed by parent companies Sky Studios and Comcast, Knoxville-headquartered Jupiter Entertainment is splitting its business in two.

Its production services arm will become The Production Hive, a one-stop shop for producers to access pre-production, production and post-production services.

Jupiter, one of the largest production companies in the country, will retain its focus on series development and will be The Hive’s largest client.

It's a strategy aimed to scale both companies, which will retain a major foothold in Knoxville.

“It allows Jupiter to really focus on development and sales, and then the creative oversight of the projects they launch," said Robert Twilley, president of The Hive. "And it transfers all of the production and business management responsibilities."

Lowering risk for producers

The goal of the split is to eliminate risk for both companies and allow each to focus on its core competency.

The Hive will execute the creative vision of its clients through turnkey services for producers: casting, gear, wardrobe, set design, transcription, media management, staffing, human resources, finance, offline editing, graphics and final delivery.

The producer retains oversight of creative and major business decisions while not burdened by day-to-day responsibilities.

“Launching The Hive is the next step in our ambition to make Sky Studios a world-leading creative and production force and home to the industry’s best talent,” Jane Millichip, chief commercial officer of Sky Studios, said in a press release. “We already have over 50 shows in production across Europe, and the agile approach of The Hive will help us, and other producers, get great ideas and unique stories in to production quicker.”

Sky acquired Jupiter in 2015 and was acquired by Comcast in 2018.

At the launch, more than 80% of The Hive’s resources will be devoted to Jupiter projects. Since it launched more than 20 years ago, Jupiter has produced 75 series and specials for 30 including "American Murder Mystery" on Investigation Discovery, "Snapped" on Oxygen and "Welcome to Myrtle Manor" on TLC.

In the last year alone, Jupiter produced 19 series, specials and pilots.

The Hive will look to capture new business with other production companies, perhaps serving as co-producer for networks who want to commission a project from untested producers.

“(We’re) taking out a lot of the risk that is not acceptable to producers and production companies,” Twilley said. “They're not signing leases, they're not investing in equipment, they're not making long-term commitments to staff and having to worry about the benefits that they need to pay."

The work is familiar ground for Twilley, who as senior vice president and general manager of Jupiter oversaw business across 75 series and specials.

When he started with Jupiter, the production team was doing less than 20 hours of programming a year; it now does about 280.

Knoxville hub will grow

Robert Twilley will helm The Hive, a new business from the team at Jupiter Entertainment. “We can deliver more to the screen for the dollar that you can in New York or L.A.,” Twilley said. “The production costs there are just prohibitively expensive for a lot of cable budgets.”

Twilley, who joined Jupiter in 1998 as employee No. 8, will take more than 90% of Jupiter’s 250 employees to The Hive. The brand officially launches at the start of 2020 but is in soft operation now.

The Hive will emphasize its cost-efficient appeal; it's one of the benefits of working with a company primarily based in Knoxville, where the cost of living is 193% less than in Manhattan.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Brenna McDermott

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Published December 10, 2019