BBC Studios, the commercial subsidiary of U.K. broadcaster BBC, is launching ad-free streaming channel BBC Select on Amazon Prime Video Channels and the Apple TV app in early 2021.
The service will offer programs from the U.K. covering culture, politics and ideas, and many of the shows will be U.S. and Canada premieres. Pricing for the channel will be announced at launch.
The “BBC Select” label is something of a nod to a previous BBC offering. In an earlier avatar, between 1992 and 1995, BBC Select was an overnight subscription service that ran between 2am and 6am, after the BBC channels had shut down. The programming was aimed at specialist audiences like businessmen, lawyers, nurses and teachers.
Shows that will be available on the new streamer include the work of Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry and his programs on class, masculinity and identity, including his latest, “Grayson Perry: Big American Road Trip” (pictured); author and social documentarian Stacey Dooley, host of Stacey Dooley’s series “Brainwashing Stacey”; historian Professor Simon Schama’s new series “The Romantic Revolution”; and a collection of filmmaker Louis Theroux’s output, including “Selling Sex,” “Surviving America’s Most Hated Family” and “Talking to Anorexia.”
Exclusives to the service include “Shock of the Nude,” hosted by Professor Mary Beard, a take on the nude in western art; “Reggie Yates in China,” which explores fault-lines in Chinese society; “In Search of Frida Kahlo,” which follows musician Emeli Sandé as she tells the artist’s story; and “Fall of an Icon,” exploring the life of Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi.
“As we shift our business focus to engaging our fans direct, the digital space offers us the opportunity to bring audiences a portfolio of shows that bring new ideas and perspectives into the conversation,” said Rebecca Glashow, president, BBC Studios Americas. “Our research has shown that audiences are looking for an alternative to what is already out there. BBC Select is it.”
“BBC Select is for those who crave knowledge, new perspectives, and programs that are not your standard fare,” said Louise la Grange, general manager and launch director. “BBC Select will combine a rich line up of never-before-seen shows in the U.S. and Canada with a prized portfolio of thought-provoking, eye-opening programs that provide context and color to the world we all share — all in one place.”
BBC Studios grew 14% to a profit of $233.6 million over the last financial year. BBC Studios production was the U.K.’s most commissioned creator of new content in 2019, with 77 new commissions from the BBC and third parties.