Australians have long had access to the BBC, although a current four-channel lineup on Foxtel won't completely satisfy fans of British TV when it's just a sliver of the content they know. BBC Worldwide should be closing some of that (figurative) distance, though, with plans to offer a premium channel through Foxtel's network. The as-yet-unnamed service will give Aussies a chance at first-run BBC shows about a year before they'd broadcast over the air there. and without ads. (Pretty good for not having a UK TV license.) The BBC content will naturally be available in HD, as well as for mobile streaming through Foxtel Go. About the only drawback to the channel outside of its premium nature is the mid-2014 start date, but that may be a small sacrifice for determined Anglophiles and ex-pats.
[Image credit: Teknorat, Flickr]
BBC Worldwide and Foxtel forge new partnership to build the BBC brand in Australia
New channel to make Foxtel the home of BBC TV in Australia
In a significant new multi-platform deal, BBC Worldwide is to launch a premium BBC channel on Foxtel, offering premiere British drama and comedy, ad-break free and as close to UK transmission as possible.
This is an important step in the BBC's global strategy to build its brand in markets outside the UK. The Foxtel platform offers an ideal opportunity for the BBC to create a direct relationship with Australian audiences.
Launching as part of the Foxtel Drama & Lifestyle package in mid 2014, the channel will feature quality first-run programming from the BBC and other great British producers, which will not be available on terrestrial television for at least 12 months.
One title already confirmed for the launch is the spectacular 10-part drama series, The Musketeers. Adrian Hodges' fresh and contemporary take on Alexandre Dumas' characters from his much-loved novel has a stellar cast including Luke Pasqualino as D'Artagnan, the three Musketeers Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera and Howard Charles, as well as Peter Capaldi.
The deal will also see the four existing BBC channels – UKTV, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC World News – continuing on the Foxtel platform, celebrating British content and creativity.
All five channels will be available on Foxtel GO and the premiere channel will be available in high definition, alongside UKTV and BBC Knowledge. Extensive BBC content will be available on demand at no extra charge and subscribers to the channels will be able to go back in time using the Foxtel EPG to watch or record programs they have missed.
In addition, the deal offers Foxtel a first-look at all BBC Worldwide Lifestyle programming. This content will also be available on Foxtel Go and on demand and using the EPG catch up functionality.
Jon Penn, Managing Director, BBC Worldwide Australasia said: 'This deal represents a strategic opportunity for BBC Worldwide to further expand our opportunities to showcase outstanding British creativity in Australia. We have a strong relationship with Foxtel and their viewers through our existing four channels, and were delighted to be given the chance to launch a premium channel that could offer the best BBC and British premiere television shortly after UK transmission. We are confident that we will also continue to have productive relationships with our other valued partners in the FTA, STV and digital markets.'
Foxtel CEO, Richard Freudenstein said, 'The BBC is one of the great television brands; its content, across so many genres, is loved and admired by millions of viewers all over the world. By strengthening our relationship with the BBC we will greatly enhance the viewing experience we offer our subscribers, with even more high quality content that can only be seen on the Foxtel platform and which we show as soon as possible after its original broadcast. Plus we offer the superior quality of high definition and the fantastic convenience of Foxtel Go.
'I want to congratulate BBC Worldwide on this initiative that will greatly enhance their presence in the Australian market.'
BBC Worldwide Channels on Foxtel:
New BBC premium channel – this will feature premiere British drama and comedy, fast-tracked and uninterrupted, from mid 2014.
UKTV – featuring UK hits, including drama, entertainment and soaps..
BBC Knowledge – documentaries with credibility and character.
CBeebies – TV that's good for your children - educational, entertaining, safe and advertising free.
BBC World News – trusted and impartial 24-hour international news coverage.