×

BBC Worldwide bows new channels

Beeb launches most ambitious strategy for a decade

LONDON — BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial arm, is launching a new bouquet of global channels in what represents the outfit’s most ambitious strategy for a decade.

The first fruits of the new initiative will see pre-school tyke web, CBeebies, and newly forged BBC Entertainment bow in India before the end of the year – and “two or three additional channels” in the U.S. by 2009.

Two new channel brands are being launched – BBC Knowledge and BBC Lifestyle, plus as high definition channel.

Apart from CBeebies, which will be free to air, the new ventures will be funded by a mix of subscription and ad coin.

Said BBC Worldwide’s managing director of global channels, Darren Childs: “Global channels is going to become a massive part of Worldwide’s growth strategy over the next three to five years. It is a good, high margin business.”

Childs would not be drawn on specifically which webs are being prepared for a U.S. launch, but provided distribution deals can be signed the aim is to have a U.S. version of CBeebies up and running alongside BBC America, plus a new HD channel and the soon-to-be launched BBC Lifestyle.

The Corp. also wants to beef up its non-linear presence in international markets, the main reason why the Beeb has dropped “TV” from its Global Channels branding.

Added Childs: “Our channels will broadcast across all media – VOD, mobile, and online as well as linear channels.”

The Indian version of CBeebies, the Corp’s first branded TV web to bow on the sub-continent, will air in dual language versions – Hindi and English.

BBC Entertainment will replace BBC Prime which will be phased out in the coming months.

Said Childs: “BBC Prime will disappear as a brand. It is something we can do better. It was too non-specific. BBC Entertainment will do what it says on the tin.

“Our aim is to make all our channels much more localized with dedicated content aimed at particular territories.

“We want to customize shows for local markets in the way that we remade ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ as ‘Dancing With The Stars’ in the U.S.”

BBC Entertainment is to be rolled out across Asia in October, with Europe following before the end of the year.

As part of the plan, regional offices are being opened for the first time in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Childs said that while the new webs will all have first-look deals with the BBC, there will be a need to acquire shows in most genres.

Quite how established global channels operators will react to the BBC’s ambitions remains to be seen.

In Blighty, commercial media combines like News International have accused the pubcaster of unfair competition as it seeks to broaden its activities across all media.

Childs, however, said there was a market demand for the new channels.

He said: “We are not launching copycat channels. Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content