Tag Archives: BBC Studios

MultiChoice, BBC extend partnership in SA

African pay TV operator MultiChoice Group and UK-based BBC Studios have collaborated to expand reach of the BBC’s channels on MultiChoice-owned satellite TV platform DStv in South Africa.

Pierre Cloete

Through this deal, BBC UKTV, a multi-genre channel from BBC Studios, will be added to South Africa’s DStv Compact package. The move provides around eight million families in South Africa access to a variety of entertainment shows, natural history series, soaps and children’s programmes from BBC Studios’ award-winning catalogue.

Furthermore, BBC Lifestyle will join the DStv Family package for the first time next month, offering programming including The Great South African Bake Off S4, Listing Jozi, Jamie Oliver: Cooking for Less, Come Dine With Me South Africa S9 and Britain’s Most Expensive House S2.

DStv audiences will have access to the content for longer, with the catch-up window on BBC-owned content being extended from 30 days to 60 days from September 1.

Pierre Cloete, commercial director at BBC Studios in Africa, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with MultiChoice and are proud of our six incredible BBC channels on the DStv platform. Each channel offers something for everyone with broad genre, trusted quality and international and local talent.

“This will give even more people in South Africa access to the very best BBC content, and I can’t wait for new audiences to find their new favourite shows.”

Arran Tindall, chief commercial officer and exec VP for EMEA key markets at BBC Studios, added: “Adding BBC Lifestyle to Family and BBC UKTV to Compact enables us to reach wider audiences, utilising the richness of the BBC’s content and providing more DStv subscribers access to award-winning shows.”

Georginah Machiridza, executive head of general entertainment channels at MultiChoice Group, said: “We continue to strengthen our content offering. Therefore, we are excited about broadening the content scope for our customers.”

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Wildscreen, BBCS launch Tanzania festival

Conservation charity Wildscreen, BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit (NHU) and non-profit organisation Afrisos have partnered to launch an event titled Wildscreen Festival Tanzania.

Lucie Muir

The festival will take place on June 7-8 in the East African city of Arusha and will enhance NHU’s partnership with Wildscreen, following its role as the headline sponsor of last year’s Wildscreen Nairobi Festival, according to the backers.

Wildscreen Festival Tanzania will open its doors to aspiring and established professionals from the African film industry and participants from the global natural history film sector. In addition, African storytellers and filmmakers will have the opportunity to share their insights and expertise alongside prominent figures from the global industry. There will be keynote speeches, panels, workshops, commissioning sessions and networking opportunities.

The event’s programming will receive support from a festival advisory board chaired by Faith Musembi, producer/director at the NHU. It will precede Wildscreen’s biannual global festival, scheduled to take place in Bristol, England from October 14 to 18.

Wildscreen CEO Lucie Muir said: “There were so many tangible impacts off the back of the inaugural event in Nairobi last year, whether it be connections, jobs, film funding or simply demystifying how the wildlife factual genre works. We want to build on that energy and momentum, to support a more equitable international wildlife storytelling community.”

Jonny Keeling, head of the NHU, added: “Following the success of Nairobi last year, we are excited to partner with Wildscreen again to celebrate and recognise the role of African storytellers in the world of wildlife filmmaking. Supporting in-country talent is key to building a more inclusive and sustainable industry. This event promises to bring together programme makers from across the African continent to share new ideas and new opportunities.”

Jigar Ganatra, chairman of Afrisos, said: “Over the last few years, there has been an upswell of authentic storytellers from the continent who have shown immense talent in the wildlife filmmaking industry. The energy for raising our voices for the world to hear and see our perspectives as Africans has led to a refreshed wave of natural world storytelling.

“As a local community of filmmakers and photographers, we are electrified by the fact that our work is being acclaimed internationally, and now, for the first time, the big players are coming to our doorstep to celebrate our achievements and pave a path for future collaborations. It’s about time a bridge is built between African wildlife filmmakers and the international industry – Wildscreen Tanzania promises to be that bridge.”

Wildscreen’s first festival outside of the UK was in June 2023 in Nairobi, which showcased 35 speakers, all of whom shared their expertise and experience as African storytellers with an audience of over 200 industry professionals. Last year, Wildscreen initiated trials for three global hubs located in Nairobi, Cape Town and Bangalore, with the East African hub surpassing expectations and reaching remarkable levels of success, according to the company.

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Viu takes BBC Studios package for SA

Homegrown Tastes South Africa

International OTT streaming service Viu has picked up its first package of content from BBC Studios’ distribution slate, including dramas, documentaries and kids’ content, for its platform in South Africa.

The agreement, covering 150 hours of programming, marks the first sale of cookery show Homegrown Tastes South Africa, BBC Lifestyle’s local commission which launched earlier this year.

The 10-part series, produced by BBC-backed South African production company Rapid Blue, follows chef and TV personality Lorna Maseko on a culinary expedition across South Africa.

The deal also includes the first five seasons of Luther, Orphan Black and drama anthology series Small Axe by Oscar-, Bafta- and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen.

For younger audiences, UK preschool animated series JoJo & Gran Gran, featuring a black British family, will be available to stream. Based on a best-selling book, the series tells the story of a four-year-old girl and her fun and wise grandmother who teaches her about relationships and the many wonders of life and the world.

English-language learning series Yakka Dee will also be available on the Viu platform.

“This deal marks the first with Viu and the first sale of our local commission, Homegrown Tastes South Africa,” said Pierre Cloete, commercial director for Africa at BBC Studios.

Ryan Solovei, country manager for South Africa at Viu, added: “This deal marks the first of its kind – this is an indication that there is growth and further opportunities in what is and will continue to be a dynamic entertainment market. This is an indication of Viu’s commitment to South Africa and Africa at large.”

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BBC partners Openview on FTA net

The Great British Bake Off

BBC Studios (BBCS) has partnered with satellite TV platform Openview to launch BBC UKTV, its first free-to-air channel in South Africa.

The channel launches on October 18 and will offer entertainment, natural history series, soaps and children’s shows from the BBCS catalogue.

Shows in the launch schedule include: food-themed The Great British Bake Off S8, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook and Mary Berry Cooks; soaps Casualty S36 and Doctors S22; sitcom My Family; and docs Wild Africa and Africa with Ade Adepitan.

Motoring shows Million Dollar Car Hunters and Top Gear S19 are also in the mix, while for kids the net will air Go Jetters, My World Kitchen, Andy’s Safari Adventures and My Pet & Me.

The launch of BBC UKTV joins BBCS’s existing channels in South Africa – namely BBC Earth, BBC Brit, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News on MultiChoice’s DStv platform. The UK pubcaster also launched BBC Kids on the Play Store after a deal with telco MTN earlier this month.

The move comes as Openview grows its channel bouquet with more international and niche offerings. It recently launched Turkish drama channel ePlesier, with imported series dubbed into Afrikaans, as well as Gen Z lifestyle network eXposed and The Home Channel+.

More than three million South African homes have access to Openview, according to the company, and it offers more than 18 TV channels and 28 radio stations.

“The launch will enable us to reach wider audiences utilising the richness of the BBC’s catalogue across multiple genres,” said Arran Tindall, BBCS’s senior VP of EMEA key markets.

Commercial director for Africa Pierre Cloete added: “BBC UKTV has been carefully crafted to match the viewing habits of the whole family, providing all age groups entertainment at every moment of the day.”

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BBC Studios launches BBC Kids in SA

Hey Duggee

BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster, has partnered with Switch Media and MTN to launch children’s network BBC Kids in South Africa.

The network offers content from the BBC’s catalogue aimed at families and children aged up to 12.

South Africa is the fourth market to launch BBC Kids, following Australia, the US and, most recently, Taiwan in July. In Taiwan, BBC Kids is available on OTT platform MyVideo and offers shows like natural history series Spy in the Wild and cookery show My World Kitchen.

In South Africa, BBC Kids is now available to MTN customers via a daily, weekly or monthly subscription.

Preschool series such as Hey Duggee, Sarah & Duck, JoJo & Gran Gran, Yakka Dee and Swashbuckle are available to watch for the youngest viewers, while shows targeting older kids and their families include Jamie Johnson, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, The Bagel & Becky Show, Horrible Histories and Gangsta Granny.

BBC Kids is ad-free and split into dedicated sections aimed at preschool children and older primary school children.

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BBC Studios, EbonyLife strike partnership

BBC Studios Drama Productions has struck a development partnership with Mo Abudu, founder and CEO of Nigerian entertainment company EbonyLife Media.

Mo Abudu

Under the deal, which was brokered by US talent agency Creative Artists Agency, BBC Studios Drama Productions and EbonyLife Media will develop a new action-adventure series called Reclaim.

The six-part heist thriller is written by Bafta Breakthrough Brit Rowan Athale (The Rise, Strange But True, Little America). It is based on an original idea by Abudu, Heidi Uys and Bode Asiyanbi and tells the story of a team of art thieves looking to return artworks stolen 125 years ago by the British Empire to their rightful home in Nigeria.

“Reclaim is our first big-budget, global series, set partly in the UK. It is a dream come true for two reasons – first, it is a partnership with BBC Studios; second, the project will debut under EbonyLife Productions UK,” said Abudu, who is a former winner of MipTV’s Médailles d’Honneur and is speaking this week at Content London.

“We set up EbonyLife in London because our global strategy includes expansion to the UK and the US. As Nigerians and Africans, we should see ourselves as world citizens and our storytelling, locations and networks should extend to every corner of the globe. I am delighted with this opportunity to extend our reach into the UK with a great story and a formidable partner.”

BBC Studios head of drama Priscilla Paris added: “Reclaim’s breathtaking action-adventure is underpinned by thoughtful and timely themes and declares our shared intention to create stories which have both local and international resonance. Rowan Athale is the perfect writer to bring this story to life, having written both commercial hits and arthouse breakouts.”

The BBC Studios deal comes after EbonyLife and Sony Pictures Television unveiled a first-look deal in February this year as well as plans to set up a new African writers’ initiative called Àló in September.

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Mmabatho Kau takes Rapid Blue role

BBC Studios-backed South African prodco Rapid Blue has appointed experienced TV exec Mmabatho Kau as its new head of scripted.

Mmabatho Kau

The newly created role will see Kau develop and drive Rapid Blue’s ambitions in scripted content and sourcing new business opportunities.

Kau has over 20 years’ experience as a producer, development executive and broadcaster. She has produced a variety of shows in South Africa, including a 26-part South African educational drama Soul City 12 for SABC.

She has also worked as a script consultant on films such as Happiness Ever After (the sequel to Happiness is a Four Letter Word) Kalushi: The Solomon Mahlangu Story and Beyond The River.

Kau has also managed an entertainment TV channel and led the original content department for pan-African satellite TV network KWESE.

Ziyanda Ngcaba, MD at Rapid Blue, said: “Following more than 30 years of producing award-winning unscripted content for African audiences, Mmabatho is an important hire to fulfil our ambition for growth in scripted.

“Rapid Blue has already seen success in scripted production, having produced two seasons of Is’thunzi for Mzansi Magic, with Thuso Mbedu, who received two iEmmy nominations for Best Actress. I am confident that with Mmabatho’s varied experiences and ability to craft and produce African stories that resonate globally, she will carve a new path for Rapid Blue.”

Rapid Blue is behind Come Dine with Me South Africa, now in its seventh season, and local versions of Celebrity Game Night and The Bachelorette, amongst many others. It is also producing a local version of Family Feud with the show’s US host, Steve Harvey.

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BritBox to launch in South Africa

BritBox, the joint-venture streaming service from BBC Studios and UK commercial broadcaster ITV, will launch in South Africa in the second half of 2021.

Paul Dempsey

The territory will be the ad-free SVoD service’s fifth worldwide, following launches in the US, Canada, UK and Australia.

Last year BritBox announced a global roll-out that would take the service into 25 new territories, bringing audiences a collection of UK shows and box sets, drama premieres and live events, as well as original commissions.

Both ITV and the BBC have an existing relationship with TV audiences in South Africa, where they used to operate linear channels ITV Choice and BBC First respectively. The launch of BritBox will enable consumers to retain access to UK content following the recent closure of both TV channels.

BritBox debuted in North America in March 2017 and announced it had surpassed 1.5 million subscribers in October 2020. It launched in the UK in November 2019, followed by Australia in November 2020.

Martin Goswami

BritBox operates as a 50/50 JV between BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the UK pubcaster, and ITV.

Martin Goswami, group strategic partnership and distribution director at ITV, said: “The launch of BritBox in South Africa is yet another step in the platform’s trajectory towards international expansion. We’re delighted to bring the service to a brand new territory and continue towards establishing BritBox as a premium VoD brand across the world.”

Paul Dempsey, president of global distribution at BBC Studios, said, “We know that South African audiences have a real connection to British television and we can’t wait to bring them even more great shows, on demand, that we know they will love.”

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BBCS creates new BBC Lifestyle feed

BBC Studios (BBCS) has announced plans to create a separate BBC Lifestyle commercial channel that will be broadcast across Sub-Saharan Africa, in countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Sarah-Jane Harling

From September 1, advertisers in those countries will be able to reach modern female audiences through the channel feed, which is available across sub-Saharan Africa on MultiChoice’s pay TV service for DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact subscribers.

Sales for the BBC Lifestyle feed will be managed by MultiChoice’s DStv media sales arm on behalf of BBCS and advertisers targeting South African and SADC audiences will be able to reach those upmarket audiences on the current BBC Lifestyle feed.

“This will enable advertisers to target client needs through a combination of traditional advertising spots and tailored creative solutions,” said BBCS in a statement.

Cookery, entertainment series and aspirational design shows on BBC Lifestyle will include Come Dine With Me South Africa, Dinner Dates, Bake Off: The Professionals and the newly commissioned First Dates South Africa, which are watched by Kenyan and Nigerian audiences.

Sarah-Jane Harling, advertising account director for Africa at BBCS, said: “This is a significant step to offer brands the opportunity to align with BBC Lifestyle’s premium global and local content and extensive reach across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“With its unique mix of entertaining programming, the channel now offers dedicated ad breaks for South Africa and Africa, and remains a very attractive environment for advertisers operating on the continent.

“It enables BBC Lifestyle to assist brands wanting to specifically reach aspirational households in South Africa as well as consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa separately.”

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Kwesé TV’s Cloete joins BBC Studios

BBC Studios (BBCS) has appointed the former MD of general entertainment pan-African pay TV business Kwesé TV to a commercial director role across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Pierre Cloete

Pierre Cloete has been named commercial director for branded services for Sub-Saharan Africa, reporting to Louise La Grange, senior VP of branded services.

Cloete joins BBCS from Kwesé where he was serving as entertainment MD when the company went into administration last month. He will start the new role on September 1 from his base in Johannesburg.

During his time at Kwesé he also served as head of Sports Digital Content and acting CEO for Kwesé Sports. Prior to that he worked as head of TV and media for Ericsson in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The appointment of a commercial director for Sub-Saharan Africa signals our ongoing commitment to the market and a continued local presence on the ground,” said La Grange in a statement.

“Pierre has a proven track record in the African television industry and I am confident that his experience and local knowledge will put BBCS in the best position to achieve our ambitions for growth.”

Cloete said: “I am delighted to join BBCS as commercial director for branded services across sub-Saharan Africa.

“The quality of the BBC channels and its content is first class, and it is an honour to join the BBC Studios team.

“Africa is filled with amazing people that enjoy great stories and love quality content. The potential is ever increasing in Africa as more stories are being told and consumed, and I look forward to adding value to the BBCS team.”

His appointment comes shortly after BBCS restructured its Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region and also after the sudden exit of Joel Churcher, the BBC’s Africa boss, in July.

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BBC Studios strikes first DSTV deal

Blue Planet II has gone to SABC in South Africa

Networks across Africa have secured more than 300 hours of programming from BBC Studios, including the first deal of its kind with OTT service DSTV Now.

The service, from South African pay TV operator MultiChoice, has acquired a package from BBC Studios that includes an array of music and arts programming, ranging from Art of Scandinavia, Shakespeare Uncovered and Il Divo: A Musical Affair: Live in Japan.

Meanwhile, South African pubcaster SABC has added more than 80 hours of programming across natural history, factual and children’s. Shows include Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II, season 24 of Top Gear and preschool series Go Jetters.

The deal will see all shows premiering for the first time in the territory on free-to-air television.

Elsewhere, SVoD service iflix has concluded a second package deal for sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa), with S1-5 of Citizen Khan, S1-8 of Hustle and Undercover all included. Iflix has also added drama duo The Aliens and The Refugees.


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