B‎SkyB Buys Majority Stake in 'The Great British Bake Off' Producer

UPDATED: The U.K. pay TV giant acquires part of‎ Love Productions, which has had a big BBC ratings hit with the baking competition.

LONDON — BSkyB has acquired a 70 percent stake in the production firm behind BBC hit show The Great British Bake Off, the company said Monday.‎

The U.K. pay TV giant, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, said it acquired the stake in Love Productions as part of its "strategy to grow a broad, international content business spanning broadcasting, production and distribution."‎ Financial details weren't immediately disclosed.

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The deal is a major BSkyB investment in the U.K. independent TV sector. The firm's distribution arm, Sky Vision, which it has been beefing up, will distribute Love's new shows and formats. Love's current agreements with other networks and distributors will remain unchanged.

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 docuseries about people with terminal illnesses, My Last Summer.

Founded in October 2004 by Richard McKerrow and Anna Beattie, who will continue to run the firm, Love has shown ambitions in the U.S., where it has offices in New York and Hollywood.

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"Love Productions will continue to operate as a distinct company under its new ownership structure," Love and BSkyB said. "This means it will carry on producing programs for all the major U.K. broadcasters, as well as creating new programs and formats for sale around the world."

Said Sophie Turner Laing, managing director, content at BSkyB: "This is a significant step for our growing international content business. Love is one of the U.K.'s most innovative and creative independent producers with a track record of success across a range of genres, both in the U.K. and globally."

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
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