BBC Worldwide is due to launch a male-skewing factual entertainment network called BBC Brit, completing its line-up of three new international channel brands.
Speaking at a Broadcast Press Guild lunch in London, BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie confirmed the plans, with the channel due to go live during the coming 2014/15 financial year.
BBC Brit will launch along with BBC Earth, which already exists as a branded programming block, and new drama network BBC First – both of which were named as new genre brands for BBC Worldwide’s portfolio of channels and services in October last year.
All three are slated to roll out on a market-by-market basis. BBC First will debut in Australia on the Foxtel platform in August, though launch dates and territories for BBC Earth and BBC Brit are yet to be announced.
Discussing the new BBC Brit channel, Davie said that it will primarily be offered as a pay channel, but said “we wouldn’t rule out being free-to-air in certain markets, depending on the ad market.”
In terms of content, BBC Brit is likely to air programmes such as auto show Top Gear, as well as factual-entertainment history programming and quiz formats, though Davie said this could vary by market. The channel will air older shows, as well as new commissions, he said.
Asked whether the new line-up of BBC Brit, BBC Earth and BBC First would result in BBC Worldwide closing some existing BBC-branded international channels, Davie said: “Where we’ve got successful, profitable businesses, we’ll leave them, but actually in a lot of cases we’ll transition.
“I think there’s other markets – across Asia, central Europe, [and] a lot of places –where you’ve got in some cases a quite small BBC imprint. There [it] would be more effective to transition out and get to brands that I think have got increased horsepower.”
More broadly, Davie said “it’s fair to say that our channels business is under-exploited.” He claimed that focusing on consumer brands and moving BBC Worldwide from a “B2B company to a B2C company in channels” would help transform the business.
Giving an update on the progress of BBC Worldwide’s existing strategy – which also includes content investment and a focus on digital innovation – Davie said Worldwide is on track to meet its target of around £200 million (€243 million) investment in premium content in the next financial year.
On the digital side, he said that BBC Earth, as well as becoming a linear channel brand, would also launch as a new section on both the BBC.co.uk website and the international BBC.com.
BBC Worldwide will also become the commercial operator of the planned BBC Store, on behalf of the BBC, if the Trust approves the pay-to-download digital content scheme, said Davie.