Screen International brings you the profiles of UK broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BSkyB, and BT Vision.
BBC, public free-to-air
Film buyer Steve Jenkins, head of films, BBC programme acquisition Annual film acquisitions budget Approximately $71m (£45m) Output deals Disney, DreamWorks Typical BBC film “BBC1 shows mainstream genre films,” says Jenkins. “BBC2 is a more eclectic mix — we recently showed the small British film Grow Your Own. BBC3 is orientated towards younger audiences and Kidulthood recently did well. BBC4 shows foreign-language films for the World Cinema strand as well as classic British films.”
Ratio of local films bought to international and US titles In 2008-09, approximately 65% were US, 20% UK and 15% from the rest of the world.
Pre-buys and investments BBC Films invests $15.8m (£10m) in around eight features annually and the BBC is a broadcast partner on low-budget production initiatives Microwave (Shifty) and Digital Departures (Of Time And The City). Occasionally pre-buys UK TV rights to individual titles (Becoming Jane, Valhalla Rising).
Number of films bought Approximately 940 films annually, 200 less than five years ago. “Films don’t draw in as big an audience as they used to. There’s also less of a need for prime-time and daytime films on BBC1 and BBC2 as these slots are filled with more home-grown drama. And our evening news moving from 9pm to 10pm pushed the film slot later,” says Jenkins.
On-demand services The BBC’s iPlayer service shows films where its current deals allow. “The intention is that everything we acquire will be available
for the iPlayer,” says Jenkins.
Five most-viewed films on the BBC*, Jan-June 2009
(1) Shrek 2
(2) King Arthur
(3) Finding Nemo
(4) National Treasure
(5) Stuart Little
* Across all four channels
ITV, private free-to-air
Film buyer Dave Hollis, head of acquired film
Typical ITV film ITV1 and ITV2 look for big US and UK films. ITV3 has a slightly older, female-skewed demographic and looks for crime thrillers,
costume dramas and older classics. ITV4 buys films that appeal to its younger, male demographic such as action films, thrillers and horror titles.
Pre-buys and investments Only acquires completed films.
Number of films bought “We’re roughly on a par with five years ago,” says Hollis. “Demand went up with the launch of the digital channels [ITV2-4].”
On-demand services “We look to include video-on-demand rights in all acquisition deals in order to feed both current [the ITV Play catch-up service] and possible future on-demand services,” says Hollis.
Five most viewed films on ITV* Jan-June 2009
(1) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
(2) Nanny McPhee
(3) Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
(4) Notting Hill
* Across all four channels
Channel 4, private free-to-air
Film buyer Gill Hay, head of acquisitions
Output deals With 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures for first-run features.
Typical C4 film “Channel 4 is upmarket ABC1s; E4 is a younger upmarket, 16-34s; More 4 upmarket, older ABC1s; Film 4 is able to offer a much broader range from British films, foreign language to blockbusters,” says Hay.
Ratio of local films bought to international and US titles Just under 70% of the films are US, just under 30% are UK and just under 8% are foreign-language films.
Pre-buys and investments Production arm Film 4 invests around $16m (£10m) in 5-15 UK projects a year in return for UK TV rights.
On-demand services Films shown on Film 4 and other selected titles are available on-demand via 4oD, on BT Vision and Tiscali and set-top box platforms.
Five most viewed films on Channel 4 Jan-June 2009
(1) Night At The Museum
(2) The Devil Wears Prada
(3) Mission: Impossible
(4) X-Men: The Last Stand
(5) My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Five, private free-to-air
Film buyer Jeff Ford, MD of digital channels and acquisitions
Output deals None
Typical Five film Hellboy — the channel’s major viewing demographic is 16-34
Ratio of local films bought to international and US titles 15% UK, 85% US
Pre-buys and investment None.
Number of films broadcast “We’re buying more films this year than the last few years as we believe they can do a job in the schedule if you choose the right movie to purchase, schedule correctly and support on air,” says Ford. “The Da Vinci Code got a 16% share of the ratings and 4 million viewers and all of the top 20 films from January to June brought in more than a million viewers.”
On-demand services “We have those rights to put on a service now,” says Ford.
Five most viewed films on Five, Jan-June 2009
(1) The Da Vinci Code
(2) The Contractor
(3) Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines
(4) Rush Hour
(5) A Fistful Of Dollars
BSkyB, private pay-TV
Film buyer Simon Rexworthy, controller of acquisitions, Sky Movies and Sky Box Office
Annual film acquisition budget More than $395m (£250m).
Output deals With all the major US studios, including for first-run films.
Typical BSkyB film “We have 12 movie channels so we can find a home for all kinds of movies,” says Rexworthy. “We’re focused on acquiring new titles that have been theatrically released and acquiring a substantial amount of library content.”
Ratio of local films bought to international and US titles. “We’re increasingly active in showcasing world cinema titles on Sky Movies Indie — Waltz With Bashir, I’ve Loved You So Long and The Baader Meinhof Complex,” says Rexworthy. “On Sky Box Office World, we offer an on- demand service with everything from festival hits to world-cinema classics.”
Pre-buys and investments None.
Number of films shown “We’re buying roughly the same number of titles as we did five years ago,” says Rexworthy. “However, we now concentrate on acquiring even more theatrically released titles.”
On-demand Sky Player has around 500 films available at any time to people who have signed up to the Sky Movies package (which gives access to all of the Sky movie channels and Sky Box Office). Online, Sky Box Office on Sky Player has more than 70 individual titles and Sky Box Office World offers
more than 200 world cinema titles. “We’ve done a couple of experiments with Artificial Eye, where they have bought the rights and released the films [The Edge Of Heaven and Julia] in the cinema and at the same time we have put the film on our Sky Box Office [pay per view] channel. We’re very keen on playing around with film
windows,” says Rexworthy.
Five most viewed films on Sky Movies Premiere Jan-June 2009
(1) National Treasure: Book Of Secrets
(2) St Trinian’s
(3) Mamma Mia! The Movie
(4) The Game Plan
(5) I Am Legend
BT VISION, private digital TV service
Film buyer Ian Moss, head of content acquisition
Annual film acquisition budget “In the millions of pounds each year.”
Output deals With all the major studios, for VoD or pay-per-view titles 0-45
days past DVD release.
Typical BT Vision film “Action and adventure, comedy, big box office and
family films,” says Moss.
Ratio of local films bought to international and US titles Approximately 85%
US and 15% European and UK films.
Pre-buys and investments None.
On-demand Around 600 films are available for download to TV via a
Five most viewed films on BT Vision Jan-June 2009
(2) The Dark Knight
(3) Tropic Thunder
(4) Quantum Of Solace
(5) Kung Fu Panda