BBC Studios buys STV in Nordics, producer of ‘Big Love’ & ‘The First Years’

Jan Salling

BBC Studios (BBCS) has acquired Big Love and The First Years producer STV, as it looks to expand its operations outside of the UK.

The UK broadcaster’s commercial arm has been looking to increase its non-domestic production capabilities over recent months, as TBI revealed in February in an interview with CEO Tom Fussell and now the company has made good on that ambition with the addition of René Szczyrbak’s company founded more than 30 years ago.

STV, which is based in Copenhagen with offices in both Norway and Sweden, is behind factual entertainment formats such as aforementioned Big Love and Get Lost Honey, as well as being a local producer for shows such as Long Lost Family, Wheel Of Fortune and Bargain King.

It is led by Daniel Svarts, who will remain in place along with his team beyond the transition, while Szczyrbak is departing.

Daniel Svarts

The deal will see STV’s three existing bases rebranded as BBC Studios Nordic Productions. Svarts will report into Jan Salling, head of BBC Studios Nordic.

BBC Studios Nordic Productions will produce local adaptations of the unscripted and scripted formats in the BBCS catalogue, in addition to developing original IP for a local and global audience. BBCS will also distribute and produce STV formats outside of Scandinavia.

Context & reach

BBCS and STV have a history of working together, partnering on shows such as Denmark Saves The Planet for TV2 and the ongoing development of a local version of The Office.

The deal also marks soemthing of a new era for BBCS, which had stymied its international acquisitions having last picked up South African producer Rapid Blue in 2016.

More recently, it launched a German prodco after exiting its All3Media joint venture Tower Productions in 2020, with BBCS Germany MD Philipp Schmid leading the new stand-alone production business.

Of today’s deal, Szczyrbak said: “STV has been my baby and my business for thirty-six years. To pass on the company was a major decision, but handing over the keys to BBC Studios feels right and makes me extremely proud as the BBC brand has always been synonymous with outstanding quality.

“I’m equally proud that the entire management team under the leadership of Daniel Svarts will remain in place to provide continuity for our important relationships in the market. I will continue to support the team and the company in any way possible.”

Matt Forde, MD of international production & formats at BBCS, said: “Establishing a wide ranging production presence in the region has been a long-held ambition and a natural evolution for the business after several years of successful format licensing and co-production.

“Becoming a fully-independent local producer will allow us to have wider creative conversations and to act on the opportunity to develop and export original creative IP from Scandinavia to the wider international market. This acquisition cements us as an international producer of scale.”

Jacob DeBoer, BBCS’s EVP of international production & formats, said the deal would enable further deals across streamers and broadcasters in Scandinavia, while

Following BBCS’s acquisition of STV, the group has mutually agreed with Banijay not to the extend their local first-look agreement for unscripted formats beyond 1 April this year.

The two companies will continue to partner on formats Dancing With The Stars across the Nordics, The Great Bake Off in Sweden and The Dementia Choir in Denmark and Norway, with Banijay acting as the local producer.

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