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BBCWW to commission more content, seeking longer runs

BBC Worldwide is looking to commission more of its own content and is seeking longer runs of content it acquires from its UK public broadcaster parent that are more tailored to the needs of the international market, according to a key executive.

Speaking at Informa’s Digital TV CEE conference in Krakow on Thursday, Liam Keelan, global editorial director of BBC Worldwide Channels said that he wanted to position BBC Worldwide as a “content creator” rather than purely a distributor and said it was possible that the BBC’s commercial arm had “too many offerings” in certain markets.

Keelan, who joined BBCWW earlier this year after turning his back on an agreement to run rival Sky1, said that short runs of shows created by the BBC for the domestic UK market did not always meet the needs of international distributors and channels. “We need longer runs,” he said.

BBC Worldwide would increasingly commission more of its own content, highlighting  the South African version of Come Dine With Me as an example of a UK format that played well in an international market, he added. He said BBCWW would seek to make a mix of global and local commissions.

“We are putting more and more money into our own commissions,” he said. “We are also talking to the [BBC], saying how about we give you more money to commission ten-part runs rather than six.”

Keelan said that “the other reason to commission is you get all the intellectual property [and] you have access to the talent as part of the deal. You also get content that can run on BBC.com and so on.”

Keelan, a former controller of BBC Daytime, highlighted the example of BBC America’s thriller Orphan Black as the kind of show that could play well internationally. “We have shows in development…[and] we can use BBC America to leverage global scale,” he said.