Exclusive: BBC Studios strikes first with U-Next in Japan, ‘Top Gear’ lands in India

Top Gear UK

Japanese SVOD operator U-Next has struck its first multi-year deal with BBC Studios (BBCS), unveiled as the UK broadcaster’s commercial arm welcomes hundreds of international buyers to its annual sales extravaganza in the UK city of Liverpool.

The deal, revealed during BBCS’s Showcase 2020, provides U-Next with more than 3,000 episodes of localised titles ranging from long-running scripted shows such as Luther and Death In Paradise, to comedy series Father Brown and motoring hit Top Gear.

The pact also allows further shows to be added to the agreement and builds on the Japanese OTT provider’s long-standing relationship with BBCS, which has seen the companies working together for more than seven years.

Tenshin Tsutsumi, CEO of U-Next, said the “evolving landscape” in the Japanese streaming sector had “created a huge demand for high quality overseas content.”

Tsutsumi added: “With this new deal, we are thrilled to both deepen our established and trusted relationship with BBC Studios, as well as offer our customers an expanded volume of quality British programming.”

U-Next claims to be Japan’s leading video streamer, offering more than 140,000 movies, live action and animated series.

BBCS has also licenced the latest UK season of Top Gear to Viacom18 Media, which will see the motoring show air on the Indian entertainment network’s English entertainment channel, Colors Infinity.

The deal highlights a renewed international interest in Top Gear with its latest presenting line up. BBCS has secured broadcast deals for the latest series throughout the Asia Pacific region, including to Australia’s Nine Network and TVNZ in New Zealand.

Top Gear is now presented by comedian and TV presenter Paddy McGuinness, cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff and motoring journalist Chris Harris. The presenting line-up debuted on BBC Two in June last year, with an average consolidated audience of 3.8 million. The new series premiered this year, opening to a consolidated audience of more than 4.3 million, the highest in over four years.

The deals come as more than 700 buyers head to BBC Studios Showcase 2020, the showpiece sales event for the UK broadcaster’s commercial arm.

Last month, TBI revealed that the four-day event would host talent including Game Of Thrones star Richard Dormer, Doctor Who‘s Jodie Whittaker and first-looks at a raft of new shows including The North Water and Us.

Attendance has been slightly dented, however, after it emerged that BBCS’s Beijing-based execs and Chinese buyers were not traveling amidst growing fears over the impact of the Coronavirus.


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