Here’s why the BBC is changing its DStv channels

2015-08-26 20:00

Cape Town – The BBC’s is changing its set of TV channels on MultiChoice’s DStv and is doing so to make them future-proof, that they look sharp, are consumer-facing and play to BBC strengths.

BBC Worldwide is changing BBC Entertainment to BBC Brit, adding BBC First and changing BBC Knowledge to BBC Earth, while continuing with BBC Lifestyle and kids channel CBeebies, in addition to the news channel BBC World News.

"It makes sense for us to launch it all at the same time. South Africa is the first country to get all three global brands as well as keeping CBeebies, BBC Lifestyle and BBC World News. So South Africa gets the full 6 BBC channels," Joel Churcher, the vice president and general manager for Africa tells Channel24.

What he's most excited about the coming change happening from the end of this month has been "to get our content down into DStv Compact. So BBC Brit is now a Compact channel. So DStv channel 120 is now DStv Compact. And that can sit next to BBC Lifestyle," says Joel Churcher.

"So BBC Brit, although it’s enjoyed by young adults and women, it’s very much curated and put together as a 'male' channel; that will then offset BBC Lifestyle as a female channel. And there you've got two brilliant Compact channels from the BBC. So that opens up a massive more viewership for us."

"The other exciting thing for me is CBeebies. CBeebies has always been stuck up in the rafters as a DStv Premium channel, and that’s now going down into Compact as well, so we can wow our fans – our preschoolers – and it obviously means that our content can be seen by a lot more South Africans that we have over the last 7 years."

"We've got two up in DStv Premium – BBC First and BBC Earth, and two down in Compact – BBC Brit and BBC Lifestyle, along with CBeebies and BBC World News which goes across the continent. That's the most exciting thing," says Churcher.

"Not all of the markets took all of the channels," he says, "whereas with MultiChoice they're a big fan of the BBC channels, so it's a discussion we had with MultiChoice and they said 'great, we want all of it'. So it makes sense for us to launch it all at the same time.”

Three strengths

"In research about two years ago when we looked at our global offering, it was decided that we’ve got three pillars that we’re really good at: premium drama, factual entertainment and the third one is natural history," Joel Churcher tells Channel24.

"So those three global brands were born out of those research strengths. BBC Brit is obviously factual entertainment, using the spirit of Top Gear and that sense of humour. BBC First is a pure drama channel and on that you will only get the best of British or the BBC’s drama offering.

Natural history fits on BBC Earth, but I should say that Earth isn't just a natural history channel, there's a lot more to it – documentaries on questions about how did we get to be here, what it is to be human.”

Churcher says his "vision in Africa is to offer our content wider than the MultiChoice family."

"So of course the MultiChoice subscriber will always get first run brand new stuff because that's what they're paying for. But as you know, we've done deals with VIDI [Times Media Group], we’ve done deals with M-Net, with [Naspers] new SVOD player ShowMax, so it goes to say that over the next five years as Africa gets its mojo as over-the-top (OTT) players, there will be other opportunities to watch BBC drama outside of BBC First.”

More consumer-facing

Joel Churcher tells Channel24 that BBC Worldwide is worked effortlessly on the new brands "so they could not just deliver and house content but also so they became more consumer-facing so that we future-proof ourselves and business for the next 5 to 10 years".

"An awful lot of work, discussion and partnerships have gone in to make sure that these brands are future-proof, that they look sharp, that they’re consumer facing and that they play to our strengths."

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