BBC launches VOD services in U.S.

Move may lead to channels

BBC Worldwide will bow two video-on-demand services in the U.S. next year in what the outfit hopes will be the precursor to full channel launches.

The BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies VOD offerings will be made available to BBC America subscribers early in 2008.

“We want to test the waters and prove to U.S. cable and other pay TV operators that there is a strong demand for our content,” said BBC Worldwide director of channels Darren Childs.

“The U.S. is a very difficult market in which to launch new channels because it is very crowded. By launching these branded VOD services, I am confident we can deepen our content relationship with existing subscribers.”

These latest efforts by the pubcaster’s commercial arm to expand its U.S. presence, which also includes an HD simulcast of BBC America, comes as BBC Worldwide gears up for a European expansion that includes the launch of its main branded channels in Poland on Dec. 2.

“This is the first time our four BBC branded channels — Entertainment, Lifestyle, Knowledge and CBeebies — have been made available in a single market on a single day,” Childs said.

BBC Worldwide hopes to roll out these channels in other European markets in 2008 provided distribution deals can be secured.

Childs said, “International networks are predominantly controlled by the U.S. studios and a handful of local players. Now with these BBC branded channels, there is a European equivalent that has the brand recognition and the volume of quality content that can compete on the global stage.”