8 OCT 2020

KATIE BENBOW: "BBC STUDIOS CONNECT IS FULL OF USEFUL INFORMATION”

BBC Studios' Director of Sales Planning spoke with Señal about the context and effectiveness of the virtual showcase, along with client demands and the business strategies it has implemented during the pandemic.

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BBC Studios announced the upcoming launch of its virtual site, BBC Studios Connect, which will house its catalog of premium scripted, unscripted and formatted content. The days programmed for the event correlate with MIPCOM. Señal spoke with Katie Benbow is Director of Sales Planning for BBC Studios about the inspiration behind the site, the sales strategies the company has in mind for MIPCOM, and noted client demands. 

The purpose of the event is to unite international buyers who are interested in partnering with in-house and independent producers and take part in premium content acquisitions. Benbow explains that the pandemic has brought forth more remote work, and duties in general, and BBC Connect serves as a platform that helps “fill gaps in schedules” with titles designed to meet the current audience’s needs. “As the name suggests BBC Studios Connect was born out of the desire to connect with our customers in these challenging times,” Benbow said. “So, we’ve got a huge range of premium content to sell and in the absence of a physical market at MIPCOM this year, BBC Studios Connect will help immerse our customers in our content.”

Throughout the making of the BBC Connect platform, the line of business has taken notes of several genres that have stood out from client demands, such as children’s and educational content that help families balance work, at-home life, and class at home amid school closures. Comedy and escapist content have also seen a spike in demand. “In the absence of live sport and entertainment, and yet faced with an audience who are suddenly increasingly “available” and demanding content, more than anything we have found demand for great programming, something BBC Studios has in abundance,” Benbow said.

During the first days of the pandemic, one of the sales strategies BBC implemented included granting additional transmissions across the board, along with resourceful market insight reports offering numerous programs at a cost-effective market cost.  “The team has been brilliant,” Benbow said. “They have adapted to this new ‘normal’ incredibly quickly and successfully, all the while looking out for each other.”

Some of the shows that will be showcased on BBC Connect include the recent title, “This Is Going to Hurt,” a self-adaptation based on an international bestseller by Adam Kay. Buyers will have access to an exclusive interview with Kay and Lucy Forbes, who directs the series. In addition, Executive Producer Simon Heath and Writer Ben Richards will discuss their new UKTV crime drama “The Diplomat.” “A Suitable Boy” and “The Watch,” and “Top Gear,” one of the first shows back in production, will also be shown. “Top Gear” serves as an example of a non-traditional production that filmed “studio” scenes outdoors, inviting its audience to a drive-in movie setting.

A masterclass based on “The Pursuit of Love” will be offered featuring writer, director, and star Emily Mortimer, as well as Lily James, Andrew Scott, and Dominic West to discuss the best-selling novel.  Series producer Huw Cordey from Silverback Films offers his insight on “A Perfect Planet,” which has been in the works for four years. Imagery from “Small Axe,” an anthology from Steve Mcqueen, Richard Dormer, and Lara Rossi conversation with the producers of “The Watch,” are also offered on the site. Some of the leading formats that will be shown on BBC Connect include “Our DNA Journey and the popular game show “Weakest Link” which has sold to over 40 countries, with a current reboot in the US. “The site is full of useful information and insight”, Benbow said.

By: Karla Florez

BBC Studios Connect was born out of the desire to connect with our customers in these challenging times. So, we’ve got a huge range of premium content to sell and in the absence of a physical market at MIPCOM this year, BBC Studios Connect will help immerse our customers in our content.” Katie Benbow Director of Sales, BBC Studios