New platforms bring opportunities as BBC supercharges iPlayer
What is the average Briton’s appetite for content subscriptions?
Higher than many suppose, if the world’s biggest media players are to be believed. They are preparing to push into an unprecedented era of direct-to-consumer services and Broadcast’s analysis of the five new kids on the streaming block emonstrates just how intense that battle will be. It also demonstrates how much the UK production sector stands to benefit.
While the strategic decisions being taken in Burbank around pricing and distribution can feel a long way away off, all of these services are ordering new UK content from the outset.
Jay Hunt has placed Gary Oldman in a See Saw drama series for Apple TV+ alongside a host of non-scripted shows from UK indies; Twenty Twenty’s First Dates Hotel (pictured above) is being remade for HBO Max and other titles from the Warner Bros UK indies could easily follow suit; Nutopia is making a Jeff Goldblum mega-doc for Disney +, and British indies will look to exploit their great track record and relationships with the Nat Geo to produce for the new streamer.
“While the strategic decisions being taken in Burbank around pricing and distribution can feel a long way away off, all of these services are ordering new UK content from the outset”
In addition, there’s Quibi’s sizeable slate of scripted and non-scripted projects from UK producers, and Sky Studios’ position as a key future supplier to Peacock.
Ed Havard’s recent appointment as a London-based point person for NBC Universal could be useful for the wider indie sector when it comes to the latter – shows he brings to NBC could presumably end up on its streamer just as easily as its US network or cable brands.
While all this is going on, the BBC is supercharging iPlayer to ensure it is ready to compete with the next generation of streamers. Controller Dan McGolpin has told us the indie sector is on board with the transformation, and the 12-month window for new BBC shows that comes with it, and he’s right – to a point.
Every indie I speak to accepts the principle that licence fee payers no longer expect shows will disappear 30 days after TX.
Viewing habits have changed and the corporation needs to reflect this. But if the BBC isn’t going to pay for that longer window – and it seems highly unlikely it will – then it needs to find something else for its indie partners.
One very senior production figure I met this week spoke animatedly of the need for a significant quid pro quo. On this issue, the ball feels like it’s in the BBC’s court.
- Chris Curtis is the editor in chief of Broadcast