BBC Worldwide Takes 25 Percent Stake in U.K. TV Production Firm Curve Media

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CEO Tim Davie tells a conference that the commercial arm of the U.K. public broadcaster will continue to invest in content and talent and is "confident" about the future of 'Top Gear' after the departure of its hosts.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the U.K. public broadcaster, said Wednesday that it has acquired a 25 percent stake in British factual entertainment producer Curve Media.

It cited the conversion of its previously provided start-up funding to equity. Further financial details weren't disclosed.

Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide, announced the deal at the Financial Times Digital Media 2015 Conference in London where he also discussed the outlook for BBC hit motor show Top Gear following the decision to ditch host Jeremy Clarkson after an incident with a producer. The other hosts have since also announced they would not stay with the show, which the BBC is looking to bring back with new talent next year.

Asked about the franchise, he said he continues to be "confident" about its future, predicting that its revenue would grow "over time." He didn't go into further detail beyond highlighting local versions of the show in China and France.

Davie told the conference that his team plans to continue to invest in content and talent. While the TV industry is seeing various changes, he said "there is plenty of growth."
Investments in content producers are part of BBC Worldwide's strategy. Curve was launched in September by Rob Carey and Camilla Lewis, formerly of TV production firm Cineflix. They are focusing on developing content for networks in the U.K. and North America.

The BBC Worldwide investment previously allowed Curve to acquire a catalog of series, including BBC day-time show Claimed and Shamed.
BBC Worldwide will continue to have a first-look option to acquire global distribution rights, including format rights, in all media for all programs developed by Curve until 2019, the companies said. BBC Worldwide will also have representation on Curve’s board.

Twitter: @georgszalai