BBC’s Tony Hall Unveils Plans for U.S. OTT Service


LONDON: In a speech at the RTS Cambridge Convention, BBC Director-General Tony Hall revealed the launch of an OTT video service for the U.S. next year, among other plans.

In his address, Hall shot down rumors about a proposal to sell off the BBC Worldwide commercial division. "It is an indivisible part of the BBC," he said. "It is because of its special relationship with the BBC that it has scale. Because of this, that it takes British creativity to the world. Because of this, that it brings the benefits of globalization back to the U.K….

"While every major global player is creating a more integrated system, it would make no sense for us to go the other way and break up a system that is delivering returns that are essential to support public-service programs. It would make it harder for the BBC to diversify its revenues still further. And it would diminish one of the best shop windows to the world for British talent and program-makers—whether at the BBC or from independents."

He added, "Over the next few years, we intend to work with global partners to grow Worldwide further, taking advantage of the demand for British programming and new digital opportunities."

Digital opportunities for the BBC now include the planned launch of a new OTT video service in America, "offering BBC fans programs they wouldn’t otherwise get—showcasing British actors, our program-makers—and celebrating our culture," Hall said.

"Overall, we think our plans will increase commercial returns from Worldwide to the BBC to £1.2 billion over the next five years, more than 15 percent higher than the returns of the previous five years."

He concluded his speech by telling the audience: "I want to see a British TV ecology in the next decade that is even better than it is today. That supports a high level of investment in a wide range of high-quality programs and new digital content—home-grown for British audiences. That keeps Britain punching above its weight around the world. And that keeps making programs that we all love, enjoy and watch together."