|Founded||27 February 2015|
101 Wood Lane,
|Tom Fussell (Interim CEO)|
|Divisions||Demon Music Group|
BBC Studios is a British content company and commercial subsidiary of the BBC Group. It was formed in April 2018 through the merger of the BBC's commercial production arm and the BBC's commercial international distribution arm, BBC Worldwide. BBC Studios creates, develops, produces, distributes, broadcasts, finances and sells content around the world, returning around £200m to the BBC Group annually in dividends and content investment.
BBC Studios Productions brings together the majority of BBC Television's former in-house production departments; Factual, Drama, Comedy, (both combined as Scripted in the new division), Entertainment and Music & Events. BBC Children's production is set to move into BBC Studios Productions from April 2022 to increase the potential of taking British children's content to the wider global market, along with BBC Three's in-house production team, which is joining from April 2021.
BBC News and BBC Radio remain separate internal production divisions in the BBC (although BBC Radio Comedy is part of BBC Studios), and the rest of the former BBC Television division (channels and genre commissioning, including BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer) are part of the BBC Content division.
The BBC Studios production division was formed in 2016 and launched as a commercial entity in 2017, enabling it to produce programming for other broadcasters and services to generate profit to return to the BBC to supplement licence fee income. In exchange, the BBC agreed to place production of much of its non-news programmes to tender, allowing third-party independents to compete with BBC Studios on bids to produce them.
The merger of BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide in 2018, brought the company in line with other major multinational studio conglomerates.
BBC Studios Productions was the UK's most commissioned creator of new content in 2019, with 77 new commissions from the BBC and third-parties. It achieved 73 awards and 202 nominations in 2019/2020.
BBC Studios represents formats and programmes made by hundreds of independent producers, as well as its own production teams and returned £176m to the independent sector in 2018/2019.
The company is on track to meet its five year target of returning £1.2bn to the BBC by 2021/2022. BBC Studios has committed to growing this total by a further 30% to a new target of £1.5bn in the five years from 2022/2023.
BBC Studios Ltd. as a production company was first registered on 27 February 2015. In September 2015, the BBC's general director Tony Hall announced a proposal to split the BBC's in-house production units for non-news television programming into a separate BBC Studios division, which would eventually, with BBC Trust approval as part of the next revision to the BBC's charter, be spun-out as a for-profit subsidiary of the BBC. This proposal would allow the BBC's units to produce programmes for other broadcasters and digital outlets (which could be done in conjunction with its international distribution arm BBC Worldwide) in addition to the BBC's publicly funded properties. As a for-profit company, BBC Studios would be allowed to pay higher wages to its executives and talent, and no longer face scrutiny over them as it did as a public entity. The proposal was described by The Guardian as being "one of the biggest changes to the BBC in its 93-year history".
The proposal attracted criticism from independent studios, who felt that it would result in the formation of a "super-indie" that would unduly benefit from "guaranteed" programme commissions from the BBC. As part of the split, the BBC planned to tender its programmes, so that independent producers and BBC Studios could bid for the rights to produce its non-news programming, outside of top shows assigned to BBC Studios. The re-organisation and formation of BBC Studios as a division of the BBC was completed in April 2016. In September 2016, the BBC announced that it would tender its non-news programmes over the next 11 years, beginning with programmes such as A Question of Sport, Holby City and Songs of Praise.
In October 2016, the BBC announced that it planned to lay off 300 employees from the division seen as redundant. In December 2016, BBC Studios announced that it had reached an agreement with Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) in regards to the tendering plan, stating that it would tender at least 40% of the "in-house guarantee" within two years of approval of the transition. The BBC Trust subsequently approved the creation of BBC Studios as a commercial subsidiary, with the process expected to be completed in April 2017.
On 29 November 2017, the BBC announced that BBC Worldwide would be merged into BBC Studios effective 1 April 2018. The BBC stated that by handling both the production and sales of its programming within one unit, it would improve efficiency and be in line with the "global norms" of other major international media companies. Technically, BBC Ventures Group Ltd.[note 1] was renamed BBC Studios Group Ltd. on 3 April 2018, and then BBC Studios Ltd. 1 October 2018; also in October, the production company established in 2015 was renamed BBC Studios Productions Ltd., and so did BBC Worldwide Ltd., which was renamed BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.
In December 2016, BBC Studios and its partner ITV plc announced BritBox, a digital video subscription service offering the best and biggest collection of present, past and future British programming to viewers all in one place. It launched in North America in 2017, in the UK in 2019 and in Australia in 2020. By the end of 2020 it had quickly grown to 1.5m subscribers in the US and Canada. BBC Studios and ITV are finalising plans that will see the service rolled out to 25 countries worldwide, with the footprint expanding across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.
In April 2019, BBC Studios took control of the lion's share of UKTV, taking full ownership of UKTV's entertainment channels Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, W and Yesterday. Discovery, which co-owned UKTV, took over UKTV's lifestyle channels. In addition BBC Studios signed its largest ever content sales deal with Discovery. As part of the ten-year, multimillion-pound content partnership deal, BBC Studios is providing landmark natural history programming and hundreds of hours of factual content for Discovery's new global streaming service.
In August 2019 BBC Studios announced a long-term deal with HBO Max, selling HBO the streaming rights for Doctor Who, as well as Luther, The Honourable Woman, the British version of The Office and Top Gear – equating to more than 700 episodes of BBC shows in total.
In November 2020, BBC Studios 2019/2020 UK Pay Gap Report was published, which showed that all median pay gaps were now below 10% and that women made up 53.2% of leadership roles. The report also voluntarily disclosed BBC Studios bonus pay gaps by ethnicity, disability and sexuality for the first time, as well as more detail on the three payment types that make up BBC Studios' overall bonus pay gaps.
In November 2020, BBC Studios Productions announced it was introducing new steps to improve diversity and inclusion across its content and teams, including an ‘Inclusion Rider’, spearheaded by Director of Content Ralph Lee. This sees a commitment to a minimum target of 20% of on-screen talent and production teams on all new BBC and third-party UK commissions coming from a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, having a lived experience of a disability, or being from a low-income background. There was also an additional commitment to a target of at least one senior role on scripted and unscripted production teams being appointed from one of these backgrounds.
In February 2021, BBC Studios launched a new, ad-free subscription streaming channel, BBC SELECT, in the U.S. and Canada on Amazon Prime Video Channels and the Apple TV app. BBC SELECT offers a range of programmes from the UK covering three main topics – culture, politics, and ideas. More recently, BBC Studios signed a first look deal with Gobstopper.
In March 2021 it was announced that BBC Studios will become responsible for the commercial management of BBC Global News Ltd. Editorial control and operation of BBC World News channel will move to the public service news operation, with its international advertising and distribution provided by BBC Global News.