Ambitious new production company will push sports talent and brands to create original programming through a new 360° brand-building model
Former England rugby stars Mike Tindall and James Haskell and renowned actor James Nesbitt are among the co-founders of Folding Pocket, a new multimedia storytelling company. The production venture is working on original content with major platforms including Spotify, Audible and Amazon Music and opens with an impressive line up of programming including The Good, The Bad & The Rugby.
A podcast-led brand-building powerhouse, Folding Pocket is using original programming as the centrepiece for vibrant and exciting multi-platform digital channels. The approach offers a unique value proposition for talent, listeners, brands and agencies, and provides talented creatives a way to grow their portfolio and independence with exciting, original projects that they share a stake in. Folding Pocket will sit within Platform, a newly formed group of media and technology companies that collaborate to build brands and audiences.
Matthew Sherry, CEO, Platform, says: “Podcasts are growing exponentially, but we’ve heard consistently from brands that they don’t know how to activate within them. There is also an issue of standing out in a saturated market when the only real shop windows for podcasts are the apps that distribute them. The Platform model solves both issues, as illustrated by The Good, The Bad & The Rugby. Not only is GB&R probably the biggest non-linear rugby programming in the world, the brand is on course to deliver significant commercial media value in its first year.
“We use our cross-section of companies to transform podcasts into premium brands that deliver audience, fame and value. What results is distinct audiences on different platforms, and a funnel of discoverability that goes from the full show, to magic moments breaking to a wider audience via social video, all the way to memes and no-context reactive content that embed our programming into culture at large. This strategy has already led to impactful programming that has both created and captured the news of the day.”
The company already boasts an impressive line up of programming. Tindall and Haskell star in The Good, The Bad & The Rugby alongside presenter Alex Payne. Joining Folding Pocket’s flagship show are the recently-launched Brydon &, Rob Brydon’s new interview podcast which sits exclusively on Spotify, and Inside Fighting starring former two-weight world champion boxer Carl Frampton. The company has many other high-profile projects in development involving some of the world’s leading talent.
Mike Tindall says: “We only launched The Good, The Bad & The Rugby eight months ago and it has become the world’s biggest rugby podcast. But we wanted to create something that was more than just an audio experience and use it as a model for what is possible across a variety of different sectors. As a result of all the work we have done this last year, we have already created a successful offshoot centred around women’s rugby – with current England star Emily Scarratt.”
James Nesbitt adds: “When I first saw the plans for what was coming together here, I knew I had to be involved. A couple of things excited me above all. One, the business model – it’s as ambitious as it is unique in the market, and it will prove to be incredibly attractive for earning the attention of the highest calibre of talent. And, secondly, the quality of the programming. Looking across the board from the sports and entertainment projects to the narrative journalism and scripted fiction, the concepts and formats that have been devised here are exceptional. And, specifically in drama, the scripts for some of Folding Pocket’s upcoming productions are innovative, thrilling and beautifully written.”
Platform is the home of three companies, in addition to Folding Pocket: Wildfire, a social agency expert in content distribution and influencer marketing; Wildfire Sport, a publisher and leading communications agency, home to some of the most respected sports publications in the world; and Format, a company offering next-generation tools for editorial teams and newsrooms that automate and accelerate content creation and publishing. The group is led by Matthew Sherry as Chief Executive Officer; Gaby Khalastchy as Chief Operating Officer; and Matt Sayward as Chief Strategy Officer. Combining a wealth of experience across the audio, digital, advertising and media industries, the senior management team lead the four businesses in unison, growing and linking them together to become greater than the sum of their parts.
Platform, co-founded by Sherry, Khalastchy and Sayward, owns significant stakes in all four companies. As well as working alongside clients in TV, sport and across the media and entertainment industry, Platform is commissioning its own content.
Gaby Khalastchy, Chief Operating Officer, Platform, said: “Building Folding Pocket to work with our agencies that specialise in social and communications gives it a hugely unfair advantage in the market. Wildfire Sport has a great heritage of building brands; Wildfire is a renowned social distributor. Bringing these together with Folding Pocket’s exceptional production - led by a management team with over 50 years’ experience - will allow Platform to stand out in a crowded market.”
“We work collaboratively with talent, offering IP within projects and true ownership of their own voice,” adds Matt Sayward, Chief Strategy Officer, Platform. “We’re already working with a number of household names, with hugely exciting projects to announce soon across scripted fiction, entertainment and comedy, sport and journalistic programming. Our direct access to incredible talent paired with our 360° model makes us incredibly ambitious with our commissioning decisions, as we have to dream big enough to build shows that can sustain a brand, while also being primed for adaptation into film, TV, streaming video, books and more. ”