Television Business International

C4’s £75m Bake Off gamble pays off

Formats-headerThe Great British Bake OffUK broadcaster Channel 4’s gamble to pay £75 million (US$97 million) to grab The Great British Bake Off from the BBC has reaped early rewards.

The first episode of C4’s new bakery competition series took an average 6.5 million viewers and a 30.4% share – its largest overnight audience since the Paralympics in 2012.

The episode peaked at 7.7 million, which is a figure that dwarfs most Channel 4 factual entertainment shows.

The numbers are well down on the highest ratings the show took on previous home BBC One, where the previous opening episode took 10.4 million and the finale was 2016’s highest rated show with overnights of 14 million.

However, in context, the new season launch both financially and on a programming level vindicates Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt’s decision to poach the Love Productions show from the BBC.

Eyebrows were raised when the £75 million figure Channel 4, which is a commercially funded public broadcaster, paid for it became public.

Last week at the Edinburgh International Television Festival Hunt, who is soon to leave the channel, said around three million viewers was the break-even point for Channel 4 and “anything above that” would be profit.

The critical and social response to the new series, which largely has a new presenting team, has also been positive.

BBC Worldwide, the sales arm of the BBC, remains in control of the format rights to Bake Off. Internationally, there are more than 20 remakes.

Channel 4’s deal with Love runs for three years, with each season understood to be fetching £25 million. Netflix and ITV both had offers for the show turned down after it had become available.