China's CCTV Buys More BBC Natural History Content

The state broadcaster says it has seen interest in documentaries increase among Chinese viewers.

LONDON – Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has struck a programming deal with BBC Worldwide covering natural history and other content from the U.K. public broadcaster.

The commercial arm of the BBC will provide CCTV with more than 65 hours of programs. The companies, which have been business partners for years, said this represents the Chinese broadcaster's largest natural history content deal this year.

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Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The CCTV content deal also involves other factual programming from the BBC, but is dominated by such natural history shows as Attenborough’s Ark, Jaguars – Born Free, Penguins – Spy in the Huddle and Giant Otters of the Amazon.

"In the years that we’ve worked together, we’ve seen [the interest in documentaries] increase among our Chinese viewers," said Liu Wen, managing director of the CCTV Documentary Channel. "BBC’s factual programs are especially popular among the Chinese audience. We are excited to be working with BBC Worldwide yet again and hope to continue to grow our relationship with the BBC in all aspects."

The latest program agreement was announced at BBC Worldwide’s third annual China Showcase, which allows program buyers to see BBC content.

BBC Worldwide said it unveiled hundreds of new program offerings to more than 100 industry partners in China during the event. It also used the event as a forum to exchange ideas for future collaborations.

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"Natural history programming has been growing in popularity in China, partly due to BBC and CCTV's strong relationship," said Pierre Cheung, vp and general manager of BBC Worldwide, Greater China. "We’ve been providing increasing amounts of natural history and factual programs to our trusted partner, and this deal gives Chinese viewers even more access to award-winning quality natural history programming."

In April, CCTV and the BBC announced their third co-production agreement. The latest one is for a series called Hidden Kingdoms, which will be produced in 2D and 3D versions. It looks at "the natural world’s most fascinating diminutive characters -- from chipmunks in North America to giant rhinoceros beetles in Tokyo," a program description says.

The series is due to be delivered by mid-2014.

Twitter: @georgszalai