BBC Worldwide Pledges Big Backing for BBC Factual Content

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BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie

The public broadcaster's commercial arm makes a "large scale" commitment to the BBC's output across natural history, science and history.

LONDON – The BBC and BBC Worldwide said on Wednesday that the public broadcaster's commercial arm will make "a major new investment" in BBC factual content.

The undisclosed investment -- the scale of programming covered means it is likely to run in the millions of dollars -- will cover the breadth of the BBC’s output across natural history, science and history and means BBC Worldwide becomes the principal co-production partner with the broadcaster's globally-renowned natural history unit.

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The investment pledge by BBC Worldwide comes on the same day that the BBC and Discovery ended a factual co-production partnership dating back to before 1998.

But a BBC spokesperson emphasized that the fresh pact between the BBC and BBC Worldwide should not be described as "replacing" the sizeable investment that Discovery had pumped into programming for well over a decade.

The fresh agreement opens up opportunities for the BBC and BBC Worldwide "to work with a wider range of co-production partners" to create "an ambitious and varied slate of premium factual content for U.K. viewers as well as those around the world."

BBC Worldwide, as a principal co-production investor, will be able to exploit the commercial value of the shows, as well.

The deal begins on Oct. 9 and will see the BBC produce more hours of factual content than ever before from new landmark titles to popular science and nature series and special television events.

The first wave of titles, all greenlighted, include the landmarks One Planet, The Hunt, Wild Alaska and 24 Hours on Earth, all of which will be co-produced with BBC America and will premiere on the U.S. channel.

A further seven titles confirmed as part of BBC Worldwide’s investment are: Oceans, Kangaroo Dundee, The Rains, Sleepover at the Zoo, Wild Japan, Wild Patagonia and Wild New Zealand.

All eleven titles will be sold globally by BBC Worldwide.

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BBC Television director Danny Cohen said: "We have a shared vision with Worldwide to create world-class factual content that will delight audiences at home -- and also appeal to those across the globe. Commercial investment through BBC Worldwide and our network of production partners around the world will ensure that we continue to make ambitious genre-defining series that connect audiences from London to Tokyo with science, history and the wonders of the natural world."

Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide, noted that demand for the BBC's factual content "has never been higher" and the investment "opens up opportunities to work with new partners worldwide" to produce content "that will appeal to everyone, allowing us to bring BBC factual content to an even wider audience."