BBC Worldwide Channels is aiming for a threefold increase in 2012 in the number of original hours ordered for BBC Knowledge, BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle and UKTV (BBC Worldwide’s general entertainment channel in Australia and New Zealand).
Led by Tracy Forsyth, vice president of Commissioning, the plan is to commission 100 hours a year by 2014, as the international portfolio diversifies from largely acquisitions-based content.
[Forsyth will be talking about her commissioning strategy at the Televisual Factual Festival next month.]
Forsyth will look to create global productions which will run in all markets (EMEA, Asia, India, Latin America and Australia & New Zealand), as well as local commissions.
She will be aiming to match the quality of shows acquired from the BBC for BBC Worldwide’s international audiences.
BBC Worldwide Channels is particularly looking to invest in formats with the potential to run up to 50 episodes. Forsyth’s brief to producers includes “factual entertainment formats with strong British connectivity, which might be through talent, subject matter, or irreverent wit and humour, but still with a tangible takeaway for the audience.”
BBC Worldwide Channels will be looking to fully fund and also co-produce projects, working with the independent production community as well as the BBC’s in-house production teams.
“Since joining the business in January this year, I’ve been working with the regional programming teams within BBC Worldwide to clearly identify the gaps in our schedules that can’t be filled from our acquisitions pipeline," says Forsyth. "The new shows I am ordering will give the viewers of our BBC-branded channels around the world more of the quality British content and talent they love, in their first run, and tailor-made to suit their tastes.“
In addition to ordering news shows from the BBC, Forsyth will commission international versions of some of the Corporation’s flagship shows, tailored for audiences outside the UK. Recent examples include Sport Relief Goes Global, a four-hour comedy and entertainment special, hosted by Richard Hammond and Amanda Byram, and wildlife broadcast Planet Earth Live, which was repackaged for viewers outside the UK on BBC Knowledge and BBC HD in May this year.
The commissioning strategy is part of Jana Bennett’s long term vision for the Channels business which she outlined in June 2011, shortly after her arrival as president BBC Worldwide Networks and Global BBC iPlayer. It also builds on work begun David Weiland, svp Programming and TV Channels to increase the number of originations for BBC Worldwide’s international audiences.
“I believe the addition of original commissions can play a key part in the ongoing success of our international portfolio of BBC-branded channels,” says Jana Bennett, president, Worldwide Networks and Global BBC iPlayer. “We have already premiered a number of originations to a great reception from our audience and I'd like to build on this.”
In 2011, BBC Worldwide Channels aired over 20 hours of original programming including Year of Adventures (pictured), starring Ben Fogle, for global audiences of BBC Knowledge, series one of Come Dine With Me South Africa for BBC Entertainment in that market, and Some Say Love, a comedy pilot for UKTV in Australia and New Zealand.