The BBC’s commercial arm is looking to strike more digital-first licensing deals after the successful launch of teen drama Misfits on Hulu in the US and Apple iTunes in Germany.
Speaking at the UbiQ digital entertainment conference in Paris, BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) VP for business development and digital Gary Woolf said that although the business relies on TV-first window deals, the Misfits experiment had put it into a “different league.”
He said the trial had demonstrated the distributor could “create opportunities in the digital space without needing that elusive TV platform.”
“The question that usually gets asked at this point is would you do it again? Yes, we do plan to do it again. Really what this has demonstrated is that you don’t need a TV window any more to launch a brand,” said Woolf.
“It’s not the most sensible route financially, but what it does mean is that if you can’t get your content on TV, you can still reach a massive audience and actually TV will come around to your way of thinking.”
However, Woolf conceded that Misfits’ young-skewing audience made it a particularly good fit for digital distribution, whereas other types of content, such as costume dramas, may not work as well online.
BBCWW sold the first-run rights to Hulu in the US last year after its struggled to find a TV partner for the Clerkenwell Films-produced series. Earlier this month, Viacom-owned Logo picked up the show in its second window in what Woolf described as a “real turnaround” on the typical model.
In Germany, BBCWW debuted the show by putting it up for sale on iTunes, promoting it through social media campaigns and YouTube clips. On its release, both seasons one and two become the second most downloaded series on iTunes, said Woolf.
Though Woolf would not give financial figures for how well BBCWW’s digital arm was performing ahead of its annual report next month, he said that in the past year BBWW had seen “absolutely remarkable growth for TV content in the digital space.” But despite this, TV still accounts for the “lion’s share” of revenues.