The demand for BBC content has increased dramatically in Central and Eastern Europe.
That was the clear message from Salim Mukaddam, VP president and general manager for CEE at BBC Studios, when he spoke to Broadband TV News earlier this week at the BBC Showcase in Liverpool.
The annual event, which brings together buyers from across to world, was the first organised by the new-look BBC Studios, formed as a result of the merger of BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios in April last year. It began with the announcement that BBC First would make its debut on services operated by A1 Telekom Austria Group in Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia on April 1.
Mukaddam said that the aim was to eventually make the channel, which made its regional debut in Poland last year, available throughout the whole of CEE. He also stressed that there is a real gap in the market for such a channel that offers premium British drama.
Mukaddam also stressed the importance of formats, describing them as the “key for going from strength to strength”. Recent agreements extend to even Kazakhstan (Mastermind) and the first-ever deal, with the state broadcaster, in Azerbaijan.
Digital is particularly important in Russia, where BBC Studios has a number of clients including Yandex, ivi, Okko, Megogo, Akado and AMedia. A lot of business is being done and all value the quality of the content the BBC has to offer.
Mukaddam also spoke about the growing popularity of BBC Earth and the recent announcement it would be offered by Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech, thereby extending the BBC’s relationship with Telekom in CEE.
Significantly, when asked about the possibility of BBC Studios being involved in CEE productions, Mukaddam said that talks are taking place all the time and they will eventually happen. However, it is important to bear in mind that BBC Studios has only just opened up to business in the UK. Local production is also thriving in CEE, representing serious competition for the BBC.
Mukaddam also spoke highly about recent agreements, including one with HBO earlier this year, and The Mallorca Files. The latter, though still in production, has attracted huge interest, with some clients already wishing to commit to the second series.