BBC sets $2.1bn target for BBC Studios, as Children’s Production arm opens to competition

JoJo and Gran Gran

The BBC’s recently appointed director general Tim Davie says commercial arm BBC Studios (BBCS) will return £1.5bn ($2.1bn) to the pubcaster in the five years from 2022/23, an increase of more than 30% on current levels.

Former BBCS boss Davie outlined his priority to increase income from BBCS when he took charge of the pubcaster in September and said the new target would be achieved by “actively building commercial income with ambitious commercial plans for high quality programmes, vital funding and international audiences.”

Competing kids & commercial expansion

As part of the new target, BBC Children’s Production – which is behind shows such as Blue Peter, JoJo & Gran Gran and My Mum Tracy Beaker – will become part of BBCS from April 2022.

Tim Davie

The shift will enable the production division to access the commercial model used by BBCS since 2017, which sees it competing for commissions and working for a range of customers rather than just its sibling pubcaster.

The BBC said the “transfer will bring together BBC production teams, supported by brands and marketing expertise, to maximise the value of existing Children’s properties and build new global brands for a range of broadcasters and platforms, alongside BBC channels, with a better return on investment from programme development.”

Patricia Hidalgo Reina, director of BBC Children’s & Education, added that the rejig would “safeguard our specialism within a producer of scale, enabling them to continue to make world-class public service content for our UK audiences, and increasing their potential of taking British children’s content to the wider global market.”

BBC Children’s will join other divisions including BBC Three’s in-house production team, which is behind comedy show Hot Property With Yung Filly, at BBCS. It is moving in April, while the UK pubcaster;’s commercial arm will also become responsible for the commercial management of BBC Global News Ltd (GNL).

Editorial control and operation of the BBC World News channel will move to the public service news operation, with its international advertising and distribution provided by GNL. These changes will take place later this year.

Stretching streaming

BBCS added that it also plans to further expand its digital offerings, adding that it is “putting plans in place to realise new digital revenue streams for the medium to long term outside the UK by establishing complementary focused digital services built around British content.”

These could, it added, include new commercial ventures around audio and news, while ITV joint venture streamer BritBox is also set to expand, as previously announced. BBCS added that its own recently launched North American streamer, BBC Select, could be set for further expansion outside of the US and Canada.

Davie added: “The BBC’s commercial activity will become even more important in future as we expand commercial disciplines to new areas, such as children’s production, and – despite a challenging market – seek to achieve the highest possible return from all our assets. This enhances value for licence fee payers and boosts the wider creative economy.”

In 2019/20, financial returns from BBCS totalled £276m via content investment and dividends, while the organisation has a five-year commitment to return £1.2bn by 2021/22, an increase of 18% on the previous five years. The new £1.5bn target, again over five years from 2022/23, marks a 30% increase.

 

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