Pay-TV service to offer McMafia, Top Gear, Blackadder and Red Dwarf on-demand with UKTV channel branding

BBC Studios has struck a deal with Sky to offer its subscribers hundreds of hours of boxsets as its on-demand plans take another twist.

The BBC’s commercial arm is to distribute recent shows including BBC1 dramas McMafia and The Last Post, factual shows such as Top Gear and Brian Cox’s Wonder series, plus classic comedies including Blackadder, Little Britain and Red Dwarf.

The shows will be made available on the pay-TV service and Now TV under UKTV channel brands Alibi and Gold from 1 April under the multi-year deal.

They will join a host of Channel 4 boxsets including the foreign-language Walter Presents library, after it agreed a wide-ranging, content-sharing deal in September.

Sky boxsets include A Discovery of Witches, Curfew and Patrick Melrose.

The agreement has been signed just a few days after the BBC and ITV unveiled plans to launch Britbox, an SVoD service that will offer subscribers access to their programming after it becomes unavailable via iPlayer and ITV Hub. The service is due to launch in the autumn.

BBC Studios president of UK, Australia and New Zealand Marcus Arthur said: “We are delighted to have licensed this range of titles that Sky customers will soon be able to enjoy under the much–loved UKTV channel brands.”

Sky’s group director of partner channels Rob Webster added it is a great example of collaboration with the BBC. “Bringing all of these box sets together for the first time will cement Sky and Now TV’s reputation as the home of entertainment,” he said.

Separately the BBC is also undertaking a public interest test with a view to extending the length of time it is able to make shows available via iPlayer from 30 days to 12 months.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention yesterday, BBC chair Sir David Clementi criticised the regulatory hoops the corporation is having to jump through to gain permission for the move. “To stand still in this market is to go rapidly backwards but the BBC is having to go through a lengthy process to seek approval,” he said.