Why is BBC First so slow at fast-tracking?
BBC First has some of TV's best shows -but boy they keep us waiting. Why?
In the world of Subscription Television fast-tracking is one of the most important features for viewers. When you are paying for premium entertainment it’s a reasonable transaction that you shouldn’t be kept waiting unnecessarily for your TV.
Uber-hot titles like Game of Thrones screen not only same day, but same time as the US. On Foxtel owned & operated channels profile shows are generally fast-tracked, although more niche titles can be still be delayed.
But BBC First, which includes profile titles such as Taboo, Victoria, Top of the Lake, Peaky Blinders and The Night Manager is more selective about which shows get the fast-tracking treatment as these samples indicate:
Doctor Foster: October 31
Born to Kill Sept 11
Three Girls Oct 12
Top of the Lake Aug 20
Paula Aug 2
Decline & Fall Aug 12
Broken July 9
The Replacement June 26
Guerrilla June 18
Apple Tree Yard June 11
Maigret June 1
Taboo July 17
Tim Christlieb, Director of Branded Services, BBC Worldwide Australia and NZ told TV Tonight the “first” in BBC First nodded to first-run content for Australians, said but timings were dependent on a variety of factors, with the aim of launching to the largest audience possible.
“The overall shape of the schedule, other titles in the current programming mix, licensing periods, resources and time to effectively market a series are all factors,” he said.
“Since the launch of BBC First our programming strategy has evolved as we have seen what works best for our audiences. Where we feel there will be a strong audience demand for new series of established and familiar brands then we fast-track (defined as within 48 hours) or go closer to UK transmission.
“For example, the Christmas special of Call the Midwife will be fast-tracked with the new series shown within a week of UK broadcast. The new series of Death in Paradise will also be fast-tracked. The second series of Victoria currently on air is showing eight days after its UK broadcast.”
But in recent months it appears nothing has aired within 48 hours.
The Pay TV sector has previously outlined that fast-tracking of established brands is more practical than new titles which require ample audience promotion. Having full access to materials ahead of premieres is not always possible from international partners.
BBC Worldwide didn’t detail if it has full access to BBC materials ahead of premiere.
Christlieb says Taboo was deliberately delayed to screen it alongside Game of Thrones, aiming for a similar audience.
“The decision to delay Taboo in order to allow us to simulcast first episode on Showcase after Game of Thrones has unquestionably allowed a broader audience to discover and enjoy the show. Year to date it is the second highest rating show on BBC First behind Top of the Lake: China Girl.“