A major change in BBC strategy for viewers in Europe, as new online streaming channels pop-up across multiple platforms.
The BBC’s TV presence in Europe began with BBC World Service Television and later BBC World/Prime, now the BBC is launching multiple genre-specific linear channels in major European countries.
The BBC has launched BBC Travel, BBC History, BBC Drama and BBC Doctor Who on the Samsung TV Plus platform across four European countries. It follows a roll-out of some of these services on Pluto TV in parts of Europe last month. It means most viewers with a smart TV or streaming device can now access a selection of BBC entertainment and factual shows, with a local-language soundtrack available.
- BBC Drama includes Call the Midwife, Pride and Prejudice, Wallander and The Game. It’s available in Italy, Spain and France on Samsung TV Plus and in Austria, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland on Pluto TV.
- BBC Doctor Who includes episodes from the back-catalogue of the long-running sci-fi show. The content in each country varies due broadcast rights issues (the rights to some episodes are with other broadcasters in some countries.) It’s available in Italy and Spain on Samsung TV Plus. It’s also available on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.
- BBC Travel contains the best of the BBC’s travel-related factual entertainment shows, including Simon Reeve’s documentaries.. It’s available in Germany, Italy and France via Samsung TV Plus. BBC Travel is also available in Germany via Pluto TV.
- BBC History with the BBC’s back-catalogue of historical factual series. Available in Germany on Samsung TV Plus.
They are part of a growing number of ‘FAST’ channels – Free, Ad-Supported, Streaming Television services. These allow broadcasters to launch low cost linear channels delivered by a growing multitude of platform operators. Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, is perhaps the most well-known, with wide reach across a variety of devices and platforms. Smart TV operators such as Samsung have their own platform. Samsung’s TV Plus enables viewers to top up locally available terrestrial, cable or satellite channels with over 50 extra free linear channels (in some countries over 100 channels), available above channel 4000 in the channel list.
The new channel launches are taking place in countries previously underserved by traditional BBC international channels.
Since the end of BBC Prime in 2009, the BBC launched a number of new entertainment and factual channels in the BeNeLux countries, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. BBC Prime’s successor, BBC Entertainment, is in some countries the only officially distributed non-news channel from the BBC. However, it suffers from relatively low distribution and its availability continues to dwindle. Earlier this year, the BBC Entertainment website ceased to be updated.
Whereas BBC Prime originally targeted Brits overseas with the best of BBC One and BBC Two, originally showing some programmes live, the next generation of BBC channels has catered for local audiences. English-speakers have largely shunned these in favour of accessing the main UK BBC channels via satellite and online.
The channels are operated by BBC Studios, the BBC’s commercial arm. The BBC World News channel is operated by BBC Global News and is widely available via cable and satellite.