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BBC targets Netflix and Discovery with new global strategy

BBC targets Netflix and Discovery with new global strategy
Tim Dams
18 October 2013

BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie today unveiled his vision for building the BBC’s presence across the world.

Speaking to BBC Worldwide staff today, he outlined a three pronged strategy that would see the BBC invest more in content, launch three new global channel brands, and make it easier for viewers around the world to buy BBC content online.

The strategy will see the BBC compete more directly with digital players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, and also with global channel giants like Discovery.

Content investment
Davie confirmed BBC Worldwide’s previously announced plan to increase investment in content by £30m pa to some £200m.  This will be spent via content partners, including BBC Productions, indies and BBC Worldwide’s own production base, and will mean more first-look deals, BBC Worldwide funded commissions for BBC Worldwide channels, co-productions and development of content for non-linear channels.  He said BBC Worldwide will look to invest in high quality, distinctive British content.

As part of this funding initiative, BBC Worldwide announced last week it would become the main co-production partner of the BBC’s Natural History Unit following the ending of its partnership with Discovery.

Davie also announced that BBC Worldwide would be investing in new drama series Intruders, commissioned by BBC America from BBC Worldwide Productions in Los Angeles. The Intruders is written by The X-Files writer and executive producer Glen Morgan and is based on Michael Marshall Smith's best-selling novel.

Davie added that that BBC Worldwide would “expand and upgrade” its global sales market BBC Showcase 2014 in a bid to sell more shows around the world.

Global channels
BBC Worldwide plans to introduce three new brands around the world, on a market-by-market basis from 2014.

BBC Earth is to become the company’s brand for premium factual content, from natural history and the human world to outer space and science. 

The organisation will also launch BBC First, which will provide a home for drama and first-run British programming. BBC First will make its debut on the Foxtel platform in Australia next August.

A further brand will be announced in the months ahead, targeting male audiences with a blend of factual entertainment content.

BBC Worldwide will keep a number of its existing channel brands in some markets, including BBC America.

Davie said: “BBC Earth is a compelling way for us to share premium BBC factual content with audiences around the world. It has already proven itself through a YouTube channel, in an amazing live event partnership in Japan and as blocks of programming on linear and digital platforms around the world.  We plan to launch a BBC Earth block on BBC America in 2014.

"This is the moment and the means to position the BBC as a true, global leader in all things factual from anthropology and animals to science and the solar system.”

“We are also in the process of developing a new offering in BBC First. With drama at its core, BBC First will offer international audiences a first chance to view a wealth of original and unforgettable British content.”

Digital plans, the international version of the BBC’s online site, will be the hub of the corporation’s global digital strategy with a greater focus on video content.

Davie said it would be transformed over the next three years, as part of the BBC’s recently stated ambition of doubling global reach from 250m to 500m per week by 2022. 

The new will include a long-form video player and will represent a single digital route to market for’s programming partners and advertisers. 

As part of this move, the existing trial of the global iPlayer app, currently testing in 16 countries, will not be extended to any new markets, and will be integrated into over time.

Davie said he also wanted to launch an international version of BBC Store, which would allow audiences around the world to download and keep BBC content.

Davie said: “The plans outlined today for the next phase of BBC Worldwide’s development will underpin our success over the next three years and beyond. They combine an increased commitment to content investment with new BBC content brands alongside a more powerful and unified digital engine. Taken together, these three investment priorities will serve to grow the BBC’s footprint across the world, both via our own services and our important third party sales, resulting in greater access by audiences to BBC and British content and sustainable cash flows back to the BBC.”

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