The rebrand of BBC Prime as BBC Entertainment will “put a new face on the channel”, Dean Possenniskie, SVP & GM, BBC Worldwide Channels EMEA, has told Broadband TV News.
At the same time BBC Worldwide is doubling the amount of new content on the channel from 400 to 800 hours. It follows a new two-year agreement with BBC Worldwide Distribution that supplies the majority of the output. When BBC Entertainment launched in the Nordic market last December there was criticism of the high repeat rate. Possenniskie admitted the additional hours were a “reflection that the channels can be stronger”. He added the market rate is always paid. “It won’t necessarily always be BBC content and we will go to other distribution channels and other broadcasters.”
BBC Prime was launched in 1995, replacing the European version of BBC World Service Television, itself having evolved out of the old BBC TV Europe. The pan-regional version of BBC Entertainment will be available in markets where the portfolio of channels that also includes BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies is not available. Possenniskie said between 70% and 80% of the output would be entertainment-based, but “there would also be an opportunity on the pan-regional channel to show what we carry on the other brands.”
Although the focus is currently on the new pan-regional channel, Possenniskie said he was always looking to take the four-channel portfolio, plus the international version of BBC HD, into new markets. Launches in southern and eastern Europe are on the horizon, potentially with the kind of localisation seen in Poland, where CBeebies has its own presenter and the content dubbed to BBC standards. There is also the possibility of ad sales being made on a regional basis.