BBC Studios’ Matt Forde to Head New Global Entertainment Unit

BBC Studios is merging its entertainment, music, factual entertainment, events, and international productions and formats into a new “global entertainment” business, effective Oct. 1, headed by longtime executive Matt Forde with the new title of managing director, global entertainment.

Matt Forde

The new unit will include BBC’s independent production companies Mothership Productions and Mettlemouse Entertainment, while continuing to partner with Magnum Media, Final Straw Productions, Rebel Rebel Pictures and Hungry Bear Media.

Hannah Wyatt and Suzy Lamb will continue to lead the U.K.-based factual entertainment and events and entertainment and music teams as managing directors respectively, reporting into Forde.

Forde since 2018 has headed BBC Studios’ international productions and formats business, which has seen its business expand to subsidiaries in Los Angeles, India, France, Germany, Australia, South Africa and most recently the Nordics. Some of the most successful shows during this period include ”Dancing With the Stars,” “The Great Bake Off” and “The 1% Club,” in addition to “Ghosts,” “Doctor Foster” and “Luther,” among others.

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“Taking our formats success to another level is key to our long term growth and this move is in response to the substantial changes in the global market where there’s a very high demand for more familiar and trusted brands,” Ralph Lee, CEO, studios productions, said in a statement. “Matt’s track-record in recognizing the global appeal of our shows and overseeing their successful adoption by partners in multiple territories is second to none.”

FilmRise Acquires U.S. AVOD, FAST Rights to More Than 480 British TV Episodes From BBC Studios

FilmRise, the New York-based film, television studio and streaming network, June 29 announced the licensing of  AVOD and FAST rights to more than 480 episodes of programming from BBC Studios, with several shows available to stream immediately.

The package includes various series of different genres, including 23 seasons of the award-winning crime drama “Silent Witness,” four seasons of the Emmy-nominated “Wallander,” starring Oscar Award-winning Kenneth Branagh, Emmy-nominated Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, “Loki”), and late Emmy Award winner David Warner (Titanic, Tron); five seasons of “Ripper Street,” starring “Succession’s” Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn (“Game of Thrones”); sci-fi series “Primeval,” and Canadian time-travel favorite “Being Erica,” among others.

“BBC Studios is behind some of the best programming in the world and we’re excited to bring this content to the FilmRise Streaming Network and grow our audience through international programming,” Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-productions at FilmRise, said in a statement.

Other programs in the deal include “Scott and Bailey,” “Misfits,” and “Life and Death Row,” among others.

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Ex-Hulu Executive Robert Shildhouse to Lead Business Growth for BritBox in North America

BritBox International on Oct. 24 announced the appointment of Robert Schildhouse as EVP of North America and GM of Group Marketing Services.

Robert Schildhouse

He will spearhead the subscription streaming service’s business growth in the United States and Canada, and lead its centralized global marketing services. Schildhouse will report to Reemah Sakaan, CEO of BritBox International, and will be based in New York.

His appointment comes after a year of accelerated global growth for the brand, a BBC Studios and ITV joint venture that specializes in British programming. BritBox recently launched in Nordic markets, expanding on its existing presence across the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Schildhouse will lead business development, commercial relationships, programming and performance marketing for BritBox North America. He will also oversee central marketing services, across Creative Studio, Media Buying, CRM and customer services, led by BritBox International executive Nada Arnot, SVP of marketing for North America and Group Marketing Services.

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Schildhouse joined Hulu prior to its launch in 2008, progressing to become the leader of Hulu’s Content Acquisition organization. He later joined the CBS Global Distribution Group as SVP of digital licensing and distribution, where he later rose to EVP, responsible for monetizing the rights of the CBS and Showtime libraries to the streaming marketplace. Schildhouse later became EVP of business development, where he was responsible for authoring strategy to expand CBS’s global footprint. He began his career at GE Capital, where he was a graduate of GE’s financial management program.

“As we continue to drive the growth and strong momentum of our North America business, Robert will bring his proven expertise in leading innovative streaming and content businesses to our organization,” Sakaan  said. “It’s an exciting and pivotal time for BritBox, and I’m thrilled to be adding him to our passionate team, bringing the best of British to North America.”

BritBox International recently launched a robust global commissioning and co-production slate of original dramas and fan-favorite series, including “Stonehouse,” “Beyond Paradise,” “Three Little Birds,” “The Confessions of Frannie Langton” and “Archie.” BritBox North America also recently premiered the acclaimed original series “Sherwood,” with Karen Pirie.

BritBox Unveils New Content Productions With ITV and BBC Studios

BritBox International, which operates British-themed subscription streaming video services in the U.S. and worldwide, June 29 announced new programing productions with platform owners BBC Studios and ITV.

Programs include new the spin-off series “Beyond Paradise,” from Red Planet Pictures, which created the hugely popular criminal series, “Death in Paradise.” The new series takes a look at what happened to DI Humphrey Goodman after he left the sunny shores of Saint Marie in the Bahamas and returned to the U.K.

The series will be available in all BritBox International markets outside of Australia.

“As we continue to grow globally, our new on-the-ground team is embedded into the fabric of British creativity, enabling seamless and passionate storytelling partnerships for U.K. producers,” Reemah Sakaan, CEO of BritBox International, said in a statement.

In “Crime” season two, Dougray Scott returns as troubled detective Ray Lennox. Adapted from best-selling Scottish author Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and screenwriting partner Dean Cavanagh, the six-part drama will be exclusive to ITV’s new ad-supported free streaming service, ahead of a linear transmission on ITV’s main channel, and followed by BritBox.

Detective Lennox is now settled back into life with Edinburgh’s Serious Crimes team, having fully recovered from his breakdown after the toll of his last investigation. And when a high-ranking member of the establishment is found dead in a Leith warehouse, Lennox is thrown into a case which quickly reveals itself as the work of a serial killer. As victims mount up, Lennox realizes these are anything but random.

“Three Little Birds,” written by Sir Lenny Henry, is inspired by the stories of Henry’s mother, Winifred. On many occasions as he grew up, she would talk about leaving Jamaica in the late 1950’s for Great Britain, which became their lifelong family home.

The life-affirming drama explores untold stories of love, sisterhood, parenting and friendship, and the joys, laughter and struggles of making a new life in the Mother Country. The series follows three young women: the fiery sisters Leah and Chantrelle and their God-fearing acquaintance, Hosanna, as they travel to Britain to build a new life.

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“Working with the very best U.K. producers, we have curated a set of shows we are confident will excite our existing subscribers, while attracting new audiences to our platforms,” said Diederick Santer, CCO of BritBox International.

Other series include reality show “Make it at Market,” which  is filmed in the heart of Leicestershire’s countryside in the secret grounds of Stoneywell, and sees Dom Chinea (The Repair Shop) work with a team of business and craft experts to help a group of budding entrepreneurs make a living from their crafting hobby.

Finally, “Cleaner” season two again comprises episodes featuring a combination of established and emerging comedy talents.

“Karen Pirie” showcases Lauren Lyle (“Outlander”) in the title role in the new ITV drama series from the production company behind “Line of Duty” and “Bodyguard,” among others. DS Karen Pirie is a young and fearless Scottish investigator with a quick wit and tenacious desire for the truth.

The series also stars Chris Jenks (Sex Education) as Jason ‘Mint’ Murray and Zach Wyatt (“Blithe Spirit”) as DS Phil Parhatka.

The series is based on Val McDermid’s first Karen Pirie novel, “The Distant Echo,” which finds the Pirie tasked with reopening an unsolved murder that has been the subject of a provocative true crime podcast.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inks Content Licensing Deal With BBC Studios

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, parent of ad-supported streaming platforms Crackle Plus and Popcornflix, March 24 announced a licensing deal with BBC Studios covering more than 2,500 hours of content.

Crackle Plus, also a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, is one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand networks. This announcement comes on the heels of another deal between the two companies that saw the exclusive rights to the series “Sherlock” go to Crackle Plus.

More than 300 hours of content will be available to viewers for free on various Crackle Plus streaming services beginning in April. This includes mystery series “Ripper Street,” starring Matthew MacFadyen (“Succession”), several seasons of which will be streaming only on Crackle Plus. In addition, A Life in Ten Pictures will have its exclusive U.S. premiere in June on Crackle Plus.
 
 
The deal will also include all seasons of BAFTA award-winning series “Happy Valley,” starring BAFTA award-winning actress Sarah Lancashire and SAG award-winning actress Siobhan Finneran; the crime mini-series “From Darkness,” starring BAFTA award-winning actress Anne-Marie Duff and Johnny Harris; and the first five seasons of the long running crime series “Silent Witness,” originally starring Amanda Burton.
 
In addition, the 2014-16 action/drama series “The Musketeers,” and drama series “The Coroner,” created by Sally Abbott, who wrote on “EastEnders,” will be available to audiences as part of the agreement.
 
“The BBC has been producing highly sought-after content for years and we expect this content to perform exceptionally well on our streaming services,” said William J. Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, in a statement. “The long-term nature of this agreement enables us to plan ahead to maximize the value of the content to our viewers as well as our advertisers, the BBC, and us.”
 
“Through this multi-year partnership with Screen Media [the Chicken Soup company that supplies Crackle Plus], we are making it even easier for customers to discover and access our robust programming catalog,” said Dina Vangelisti, EVP of content sales at BBC Studios, in a statement. “The best of British content has never been easier to find in the Americas, and we’re excited by this new relationship with a leading AVOD service.”
 
“With the Benedict Cumberbatch series ‘Sherlock,’ the BBC’s extensive catalog of quality series and movies, and brand-new titles that have yet to be released, this agreement provides Chicken Soup for the Soul with a wide array of unique and high-quality content,” said David Fannon, president of Screen Media.
 
Screen Media is the exclusive supplier of original content to Crackle plus streaming services. Recent titles from Screen Media that have premiered on Crackle include the Crackle Originals “Vince Carter: Legacy,” “Playing With Power” and “Insomnia,” as well as the exclusives “The Mercy,” starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, Tom Hardy-led Taboo, international thriller series “The Platform,” and disaster film Skyfire, starring Jason Isaacs.

Sony Pictures, Disney, BBC Studios Join DEG International

The Digital Entertainment Group International (DEGI) Feb. 23 announced that BBC Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company, EMEA, have become members of the global arm and sister body to the U.S. based DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG).

The companies join existing DEGI members Google, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Joe Braman, co-chair of the DEGI, said 2022 promises to be a global renaissance for home entertainment, with the DEGI and DEG supporting the missions of stakeholders and driving common agendas for category growth.

“The DEGI welcomes these three new members and their engaged membership at such an exciting time for the category,” Braman said. “As the surge in new content continues across the next six months, their experience and ambition will be a huge benefit to our collective goals.”

In the United Kingdom, more than 30.1 million VOD movie rentals were recorded from January through October 2021, as well as 17.7 million digital and physical transactions, despite ongoing supply chain issues. The final week of 2021 saw the biggest uptick in digital movie sales in the United Kingdom since records began.

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Laura Broadbent, project director, transactional digital acceleration program at Sony Pictures Entertainment, believes that the evolving consumer appetite for digital content is at the heart of movie and TV consumption going forward.

“This presents a phenomenal opportunity for growth across international territories,” Broadbent said in a statement.

Broadbent credited the DEGI with providing the studio with a strong platform for collaboration through the sharing of research, insight and knowledge, which, she says will enable Sony to help its audiences understand how and where they can rent or buy the wealth of content available to them.

Johnnie Thompson, director of digital stores for EMEA & Russia at The Walt Disney Company, said the consumer base is more than subscription VOD.

“With almost 18 million digital purchases in the U.K. alone in 2021, the category continues to thrive,” Thompson said. “So, it’s essential that we come together as an industry to share our knowledge and expertise to drive the digital category forward, and DEGI provides a great platform to do just that.”

Tubi, BBC Ink Deal for 400 Hours of AVOD Content

Tubi Sept. 2 announced a deal with BBC Studios that brings more than 400 hours of programming to Fox Entertainment’s ad-supported VOD service.

New titles are now available and, beginning Sept. 15, Tubi will be the domestic AVOD home to “The First Team,” starring Will Arnett, and “Life,” written by award-winning screenwriter Mike Bartlett (“Doctor Foster”), as well as debut the Baby Cow-produced “High & Dry.”

Also as part of the deal, Tubi users will have access to multiple seasons of long-running BBC series, including “Antiques Roadshow,” as well as “Atlantis,” “Misfits,” “Monarch of the Glen,” “The Musketeers,” “Primeval” and “Robin Hood,” among others.

“We are thrilled to begin our first-ever partnership with BBC Studios,” Adam Lewinson, chief content officer for Tubi, said in a statement.

Dina Vangelisti, EVP of content sales at BBC Studios, said the Tubi deal helps expand the AVOD’s growing footprint in the United States.

“The partnership signifies a dedication to increasing our presence on AVOD platforms, expanding awareness of our content catalog as well as bringing fresh programming to new audiences,” Vangelisti said.

Titles now available on Tubi include “A Young Doctor’s Notebook,” “Atlantis,” “Bedlam,” “Blackout,” “Case Sensitive,” “Class,” “Confessions of a Serial Killer,” “Crime and “Punishment,” “The Fixer,” “The Guilty,” “In the Flesh,” “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries,” “Jack The Ripper: Prime Suspect,” “The Interceptor,” “The Lost Prince,” “Misfits,” “Monarch of the Glen,” “Moses Jones,” “The Musketeers,” “Primeval,” “Robin Hood,” “The Shadow Line,” “The Fades,” “Sarah & Duck,” “The Aliens” and “Yakka Dee.”

Titles available beginning Sept. 15 include “A Foreign Field,” “Black Easter,” “Consuming Passion: 100 Years of Mills and Boon,” “High & Dry,” “The Deep,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “Frankenstein,” “Life,” “Monarch of the Glen: Hogmanay 2003,” “Pride,” “The First Team,” and “The Turn of the Screw.” Select seasons of “Antiques Roadshow” will be available Oct. 15.

DEG Slates Virtual Expo on ‘Localization’ on Thursday, June 17

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this week will host a DEG Expo on the rapidly growing business of content localization, including viewpoints from content owners and technology providers.

The virtual event, called “The Expanding World of Localization,” will be held Thursday, June 17, beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT.

Featured speakers include Mark Howorth, president of the Iyuno-SDI Group, who will discuss the state of the localization industry. Dolby’s Tom McAndrew, senior technical manager of content relations, and Javier Foncillas, VP of commercial partnerships for Europe, will speak about the global demand for immersive audio.

An executive roundtable led by Vuulr CEO Americas Thomas Hughes will discuss the potential and pain points for localization, including workflows, terminology, talent management, DEI and the role of AI in content localization. Participants include James Hurrell, head of content and localization, global operations, for  BBC Studios; Chris Reynolds, EVP and GM of worldwide localization and fulfillment at Deluxe; Gray Ainsworth, EVP of global technical operations and servicing at Lionsgate; and Andrea Sconza, director of localization services at Vubiquity. More perspective on innovating with AI will be shared by Craig Seidel, CTO of Pixelogic, in conversation with Spherex CEO Teresa Phillips and Respeecher CEO Alex Serdiuk.

DEG Expo: The Expanding World of Localization is free to media industry professionals, but registration is required.

To register,  click here.

The full agenda can be found here.

BritBox Exclusively Streaming Sitcom ‘Kate & Koji’ in U.S.

BritBox, the $6.99 monthly subscription streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV, March 11 announced it would exclusively stream in North America ITV sitcomKate & Koji.”  Starring award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn (Vera, Secrets & Lies) and Jimmy Akingbola (“Arrow,” “Ted Lasso”), the series follows the unlikely friendship between Kate, a working-class woman who runs an old fashioned seaside cafe, and Koji, an African asylum seeker.

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Although from very different worlds, they are similar in ways they do not recognize, including a dogged determination to never back down. The six-part show was filmed in the picturesque coastal town of Herne Bay in Kent, South East England. It premieres April 13 on BritBox.

BritBox, which launched in the U.S. in 2017 as competition to AMC Network’s Acorn TV and Netflix, is available on Roku,  Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV 4th Gen, Samsung, LG and all iOS and Android devices, AirPlay, Chromecast and online.  

BritBox, which has more than 1.2 million subscribers in North America, and 500,000 in the U.K., is also available on Amazon Channels for Prime members and on Apple TV Channels on supported devices.

BBC Studios Set to Launch BBC Select Streaming Service

BBC Studios will launch an ad-free subscription streaming channel called BBC Select in early 2021 on Amazon Prime Video Channels and the Apple TV app. BBC Select will offer a range of programs from the United Kingdom covering three main topics: culture, politics and ideas.

“For nearly a century, the BBC has been synonymous with extraordinary television programs — full stop. Name any genre, the BBC is best in class at identifying talent and providing them a platform for expression,” said Rebecca Glashow, president of BBC Studios — Americas. “As we shift our business focus to engaging our fans direct, the digital space offers us the opportunity to bring audiences a portfolio of shows that bring new ideas and perspectives into the conversation. Our research has shown that audiences are looking for an alternative to what is already out there. BBC Select is it.”

The BBC already operates as a joint venture with ITV the SVOD service BritBox, which also offers a selection of British programming.

BBC Select will feature a range of British talent and shows including Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry and his programs on class, masculinity, and identity, including his latest, “Grayson Perry: Big American Road Trip”; author and documentarian of social issues Stacey Dooley and her series “Brainwashing Stacey”; historian Professor Sir Simon Schama with his new series “The Romantic Revolution”; and filmmaker Louis Theroux and a large collection of his work, including Selling Sex, Surviving America’s Most Hated Family and Talking to Anorexia.

“BBC Select is for those who crave knowledge, new perspectives, and programs that are not your standard fare,” said Louise la Grange, GM and launch Director. “BBC Select will combine a rich line up of never-before-seen shows in the U.S. and Canada with a prized portfolio of thought-provoking, eye-opening programs that provide context and color to the world we all share — all in one place.”

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Exclusives to the service include:

  • “Shock of the Nude,” hosted by Professor of Classics Mary Beard, who gives a personal and provocative take on the nude in western art, from ancient Greece to the present, and asks why artists and viewers seem so obsessed by nudity.
  • “Reggie Yates in China” sees actor, DJ, and presenter Reggie Yates travel to four very different cities in China to discover the new fault-lines in society and how they affect a generation who have grown up with seemingly more freedom than that of any other in the last 70 years.
  • “In Search of Frida Kahlo” follows musician Emeli Sandé — who was inspired by the paintings of Kahlo when writing her album — as she visits Mexico City to tell the story of one of Mexico’s most famous artists.
  • “Fall of an Icon” explores the life of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, who after 15 years of house arrest was celebrated as an icon of democracy. But years on, she is now seen by many as an international pariah.
  • “Mystery of the Missing Princess” tells the story of Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, who attempted to escape from torture and imprisonment at the hands of her father.
  • “Putin — A Russian Spy Story” is the portrait of a politician who modeled himself on the Russian James Bond and whose presidency reads like a spy thriller.
  • “The Last Igloo” follows a lone Inuit as he hunts, fishes, and constructs an igloo. It tells the story of skills that are disappearing and of how climate change is affecting the lives of Greenland’s indigenous people.
  • BAFTA-winning documentarian Adam Curtis and his “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” argues that computers have failed to liberate humanity, and instead have “distorted and simplified our view of the world around us.”

 

Pricing, launching platforms and more content will be announced at a later date.