MIPCOM: BBC Studios CEO Says "Attracting Talent" Is Top Priority

Tim Davie - H 2012
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Tim Davie, speaking in Cannes, touted the unified BBC Studios' ability to find and retain talent as it creates and exports prestigious U.K. programs worldwide.

BBC Studios CEO Tim Davie said the main rationale for the U.K. broadcast giant recently combining its production and commercial arms was to find and retain creative talent to make inroads in the global content market.

"The key rationale for us in bringing our production and distribution businesses together was to secure talent, to attract talent, so they can make their ideas," Davie told a MIPCOM audience during a keynote address in Cannes.

BBC Studios recently merged with commercial arm BBC Worldwide to form one commercial unit known as BBC Studios. The BBC Studios boss said a fast-changing media landscape required the BBC to decide what business it needs to be in.

"And frankly, what we needed to do to attract and retain the best talent was to have a system which enabled you to come up with an idea, get it made, get the funding together and come to the market quickly," Davie explained.

Another big change has BBC Studios making global content for everyone, not just the BBC in the U.K. "We have huge opportunities to make outstanding content for people. We just have to make some choices in terms of who we partner with," Davie added.

On that front, the BBC has just unveiled a deal with Netflix to co-produce a Dracula miniseries, courtesy of Hartswood Films, the multi-award winning makers of Sherlock. "We can make those type of deals happen," Davie said as he discussed what attractions BBC Studios may have for top creative talent as they are targeted by major content producers everywhere, including in Hollywood.

Another challenge facing BBC Studios is "keeping real pace and agility, and making sure that short-term decisions don't close off long-term options," he added. BBC Studios recently bought the remaining 51 percent stake in U.K. production banner Lookout Point that it didn't already own.

Lookout Point, which was behind dramas including Ripper Street, the War & Peace adaptation and the Amazon series The Collection, will become an independent scripted studio within BBC Studios and will continue to be led by joint CEOs Simon Vaughan and Faith Penhale.

The BBC's commercial arm has also made a push into China as it grows its production division. Factual producer Matthew Springford has launched an office in Beijing to work with Chinese broadcasters and digital platforms to co-develop and co-produce original content and new formats across all factual genres.

Davie touted BBC Studios at MIPCOM unveiling a co-production partnership with China’s Tencent for the BBC's latest natural history landmark, Dynasties. "We have a good partner in China. We can make these landmarks happen. They're about four years in the making, so they take real commitment," he insisted.