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BBC Worldwide to launch factual entertainment channel ‘BBC Brit’

MUMBAI: BBC Worldwide will invest £200 million in content in 2014/15 and major projects are entering production.

BBC Worldwide will also launch a new channel, BBC Brit, in factual entertainment. Besides, there is the ambition to launch BBC Earth on bbc.co.uk and bbc.com.

BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie shared this latest progress on the company’s new strategy that was announced in October 2013.

BBC Brit

Davie announced that BBC Worldwide’s third new brand proposition is to be known as BBC Brit. BBC Brit will offer premium factual entertainment programmes that support the BBC’s world-class reputation for delivering high-quality content. Aimed at male viewers, it will blend fact with fun, airing best of British content from motoring, business, documentaries and adventure to food, music and sport.

Tim Davie said: “There is a gap in the global market for a male-skewing fact-ent destination. BBC Brit will capture the maverick spirit of our premium factual entertainment programmes.”

The roll-out of the new brands will take place on a market-by-market basis, with all three – BBC Brit, BBC Earth and BBC First – expected to launch in the coming financial year, sitting alongside established brands such as BBC America.

£200 million investment in premium content: Davie said BBC Worldwide is on track to meet its target of around £200 million of investment commitment to premium content across the company in the next financial year, and said a number of important investments were already identified.

These include a major investment in BBC Two’s epic new drama about British deportees to Australia in the late 18th century, penned by Jimmy McGovern and produced by RSJ Films. He also shared BBC Worldwide’s plans to commission its own channel-defining content across drama, premium factual and factual-entertainment and revealed that ‘Intruders’, a BBC America original series produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, will go into production in February. As announced earlier this month at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour in Los Angeles, the cast of the eight-part thriller from writer and executive producer Glen Morgan (The X-Files) will be led by John Simm (State Of Play, Doctor Who).

Davie also unveiled a first-look deal with ‘Lonesome Pine’, a fledgling indie founded last year by Lesley Douglas with Aschlin Ditta, the award-winning scriptwriter whose credits include French Film, and Mr Sloane with Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Bob Weide. The joint development partnership will see BBC Worldwide provide investment and global market support in return for exclusive distribution rights. ‘Lonesome Pine’ will harness Douglas’s experience as one of the most respected professionals in the broadcasting industry – previously Radio 2 Controller, Managing Director of Partnerships and Television at Universal Music Group and CEO of Lime Pictures – to develop music comedy and drama series.

Davie said, “There are few people with such strong talent relationships who understand what makes great content better than Lesley, and the breadth of her experience spans a multitude of globally appealing genres. We’re excited to be collaborating with the high calibre of creative UK talent at Lonesome Pine and have high hopes for the coming output.”

New consumer brands: BBC Worldwide is making good progress on a focused brand strategy, which draws on a desire by audiences to engage more deeply with intelligent and distinctive content, and aims to transform relationships with key audiences around the world.

BBC Earth: As well as the launch of a BBC Earth-branded block on BBC America, Davie revealed a shared ambition between BBC Worldwide and BBC Television to see BBC Earth brought to life on both bbc.co.uk and bbc.com (the international version of bbc.co.uk) through a new BBC Earth section. This collaboration between the BBC Natural History Unit and BBC Worldwide would draw on world-famous BBC shows, with video content of the natural world at the heart of BBC Earth.

The BBC’s research shows that an estimated 740 million people worldwide are interested in science and nature, and that BBC natural history content is viewed as ground-breaking, expert and unparalleled in making the viewer actually ‘feel like they are there’. Access would be on a commercial-free basis for UK users, and advertising funded outside the UK, where it would sit alongside existing bbc.com sections: Travel, Culture, Future, Capital and Autos.

Davie added: “Our shared ambition is to offer a new way to access unique and distinctive Natural History content in the UK, complementing the BBC’s existing schedule of landmark and occasional series. It will also further extend the reach of our world-class Natural History beyond these shores, under the BBC Earth banner, building the BBC’s audience and reputation in this space.”

BBC First: Davie confirmed that BBC First will lead the roll-out of BBC Worldwide’s new brands portfolio, and that plans are on track for its debut in Australia on the Foxtel platform in August.

Greater digital innovation: Davie has also confirmed that BBC Worldwide is to be the commercial operator of BBC Store, on behalf of the BBC, if plans for its launch are approved, and that it is currently testing the consumer proposition. BBC Store would offer UK consumers the opportunity to buy, watch and keep content in a digital format. The new commercial service would make available a wider range of older content than ever before, alongside more recent programmes. For international audiences, Davie also said that the annual subscription offer for BBC Global iPlayer has now come to an end, signalling the start of plans to incorporate the BBC’s long-form video player into bbc.com over time. This may need approval from the Trust.