BSkyB Eyes Majority Stake in 'The Great British Bake Off' Producer (Report)
LONDON – BSkyB is working on a deal to acquire a majority stake in the production firm behind BBC hit show The Great British Bake Off, Broadcast magazine reported Monday.
The U.K. pay TV giant, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, would acquire a stake of undisclosed size in Love Productions. Financial details weren't immediately clear. It also wasn't clear if other bidders could still prevail.
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The deal would be a major BSkyB investment in the U.K. independent TV sector. The firm's distribution arm Sky Vision, which it has been beefing up, would sell Love’s shows and formats.
Beyond Bake Off, which has been a BBC ratings hit that this year is being moved from BBC Two to flagship network BBC One, the firm has also produced such shows as The Great British Sewing Bee for BBC Two, social issues documentary series Benefits Street for Channel 4 and the network's docu series about people with terminal illnesses, My Last Summer.
The company has shown ambitions in the U.S. where it has offices in New York and Hollywood.
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BBC Worldwide has sold the Bake Off format to 13 countries, with Love still holding the U.S. rights. The BBC will air the fifth season of Bake Off later this year.
Last fall, the season-four finale of the baking competition set an audience record for the show and BBC Two. It drew an average of 8.4 million viewers and a peak audience of 9.1 million. For BBC Two, that was its biggest audience at least since the launch of the current measurement system, beating a previous record held by Top Gear.
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The show features amateur bakers whose work is judged by experts. It has been credited with boosting interest in baking across the U.K.
A BSkyB spokesman declined to comment. Love officials weren't immediately available for comment.