BBC to Launch U.S. Streaming Service Next Year

ONE TIME USE - Tony Hall - H 2012
Luke Macgregor/Reuters

Tony Hall addresses the biennial Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge.

The BBC will launch an over-the-top video service in the U.S. next year, the U.K. public broadcaster's top executive, director general Tony Hall, said at a TV industry convention in Cambridge, England on Thursday.

Hall reiterated that it would make no sense to break off BBC Worldwide from the BBC, saying the commercial arm would look to continue growing its revenue, which will help fund the BBC.

Calling BBC Worldwide an "indivisible part" of the U.K. public broadcaster, he said: "Over the next few years, we intend to work with global partners to grow Worldwide further, taking advantage of the demand for British programming and new digital opportunities."

Hall highlighted opportunity in the U.S. "We’ll begin to try out businesses that go direct to the public," he said. "Next year, we’re launching a new OTT video service in America offering BBC fans programs they wouldn’t otherwise get” and showcasing “British actors, our program makers and celebrating our culture.” He didn’t detail likely pricing, launch date or name of the service.

The news comes after AMC Networks last year acquire a 49.9 percent stake in BBC America for $200 million from BBC Worldwide. The commercial arm of the BBC had tried to launch a global version of its iPlayer VOD service, but then ended that venture a couple of years ago.

The biennial Royal Television Society (RTS) convention is exploring the topic of "Happy Valley or House of Cards? Television in 2020."

The British government has said that it would review the BBC's "scale and scope," along with its funding and governance, as the two sides are looking to agree on a new charter for the public service broadcaster.

BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead has said the public, not politicians should decide the future of the BBC.

Other speakers at the RTS event, which runs through Friday, have included Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav and AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan.