B‎SkyB Eyes Majority Stake in 'The Great British Bake Off' Producer (Report)

Love Productions' BBC hit "The Great British Bake Off"

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

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.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai