6 October 2021

GROWING INVESTMENT IN ASIA

BBC Studios stay the course, leveraging on originals & successful adaptations

By Lulu M

Forming longstanding co-production and IP partnerships for quite a while now, BBC Studios’ production focus to date has included co-productions with Migu Video, Bilibili, CCTV, and NHK, as well as co-commissioning with ABC. These collaborations span the genres from kids to documentary.

Since the pandemic, however, production opportunities, funding, and co-production opportunities have had to roll with the punches.

“The pandemic has created a content gap due to production pauses, and this means that means our chosen partner for local adaptation has to be able to quickly develop a programme from idea to transmission while not compromising on content quality and delivery,” explained Phil Hardman, SVP & General Manager, Asia of BBC Studios.

In the space of consumer preferences, Phil noticed the desire for feel good entertainment and edutainment that bring the family together. “The idea that humour doesn’t travel no longer stands – we are collaborating on Uncle with Monster Union in Korea, and produced The Office with Hotstar in India,” Phil expounded.

In addition to BBC Studios’ own extensive catalogue, touting its producer/distributor successes, the company will also be increasing investment in “originals”, and exclusive content across the region.

“We are proud to have a number of production, co-production and originals partnerships across the region, driven by our productions business in India and Australia, factual co-productions in China, and our formats across the region – particularly in Korea and Japan.

“All these partnerships enable us to combine licensing opportunities with originals partnerships to create and distribute content from BBC Studios that resonates to the targeted market,” Phil continued, noting BBC Studios’ long-standing partnerships with major public broadcasters such as CCTV, KBS, NHK, MediaCorp, Thai PBS, and ABC.

Phil Hardman
SVP & General Manager, Asia
BBC Studios
 

So, what can the industry expect from BBC Studios in terms of collaboration within the APAC/SEA region? What are the percentages of content sold into the region versus content made in the region?

Simply put, one can expect an increase in the volume of content that will be produced in the region – including growth in edutainment and education despite the past year in pandemic, coupled with regulatory restrictions, having posed as a challenge for their plans.

“We have production bases in Australia and India complementing a strong formats business in Korea and Japan,” Phil said. “We want to net the right talents and partners who are committed and in tune with the needs of the audiences in these markets and help us tell our story in a way that will excite, entertain but also inspire audiences.

“Beyond our strength in factual programming and production, we are on the constant lookout for new ways to collaborate with partners to explore growth in education.”

Of course, its continued expansion of its UK-produced content will still be significant.

2020 and 2021: Challenging Times

These two years were extremely challenging for the industry, being hit with the domino effect of production delays, less content in the pipeline amidst soaring demand of content.

Yet, BBC Studios noted their good fortune to have a number of finished and near finished premium titles at a time when such content is in high demand.

“While we continue to see some delays affecting productions with the ever-changing global landscape, we know our production partners have been working hard on development during this period and we’re excited to see creativity shine through in the pipeline to fill these gaps,” Phil concluded.