BBC chief Davie eyes further streaming rollouts in US

Tim Davie

BBC director-general Tim Davie has said further streamer roll-outs in the US offer “great potential” as the UK broadcaster looks to commercial arm BBC Studios (BBCS) to provide increasing revenues.

BBCS returned a record £362m to its parent broadcaster last year, with content investment of £177m, but the commercial division’s CEO Tom Fussell ha already said he wants to double revenues by 2028.

His predecessor Davie, speaking at RTS Cambridge, said that competition for talent across all parts of the business – from tech and those building platforms to those creating content – was fierce and admitted that the pubcaster “needs more capital and investment, we need to grow that commercial arm.”

“We’re looking at on demand services in the US, there is enormous potential for that,” Davie continued, but offered little further detail on what a potential launch might look like.

BBCS is already a partner on ITV Studios-joint venture BritBox outside of the UK and also rolled out wholly owned service BBC Select in 2021.

More M&A

Davie admitted that bringing in-house production into the commercial arm five years ago was a move designed to retain more talent and said M&A would continue.

The commercial arm has also been increasing its production acquisitions, taking stakes in companies ranging from Small Axe producer Turbine Studios, Inside The Factory outfit Voltage TV and a 25% stake in Mothership Productions.

It is also looking to invest in non-UK production firms, as Fussell told DTVE sister title TBI earlier this year, and Davie said further collaboration with BBCS on areas including prgramming would assist with supply and talent.

“We need to think how we lean in with the commercial lot so our content supply is absolutely vibrant and so we are making sure, editorially, we get the most bang for our buck,” he said.

Davie added that BBCS’s increased debt facility would enable the commercial arm to ramp up spending to kepe up with streamer rivals.

Asked if he was worried about the growth of streamers in the UK and their impact on the UK landscape and taking talent, Davie described himself as “healthily paranoid”.

He continued: “But look at the person commissioning our drama, they came form Netflix. Life is not just about cash, its about legacy too.”

Davie also echoed comments from Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon earlier in the day, that the BBC is in a “battle” amid competition from US streamers and social media, adding that there is “no doubt we’re fighting for our business lives”.

Tags: BBC, RTS, Tim Davie

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