ABC farewells Doctor Who as BBC signs new deal with Disney+

Doctor Who has regenerated to a subscription platform after a major deal between BBC and Disney+.

Disney+ is to become the new global home for upcoming seasons of Doctor Who after a deal between BBC and Disney+.

Disney+ will become the exclusive new home for the The Doctor from 2023 outside of the UK and Ireland.

The announcement was made this morning by the next Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa, during an appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

New episodes will premiere on the BBC and Disney+ beginning in late 2023, to coincide with the 60th anniversary.

Russell T Davies says: “I love this show, and this is the best of both worlds – with the vision and joy of the BBC and Disney+ together we can launch the TARDIS all around the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while keeping our traditional home firmly on the BBC in the UK.”

Charlotte Moore, BBC’s Chief Content Officer says: “We are thrilled to announce this exciting global partnership with Disney who are the perfect partners to bring this very British show to the rest of the world. Russell T Davies’ vision for Doctor Who has always been out of this world and we are committed to ensuring that audiences across the globe get the opportunity to enjoy the Doctor’s epic adventures with the scale and ambition that they deserve. Joining forces with Disney will elevate the show to even greater heights and reach new audiences so it’s an extremely exciting time for fans in the UK and across the world.”

Alisa Bowen, President, Disney+ says: “We’re excited by the opportunity to bring new seasons of this beloved franchise exclusively to Disney+ and introduce the show to the next generation of audiences in more than 150 markets around the world. The series is a perfect addition to our ever-growing catalog of global content that continues to make Disney+ the home for exceptional storytelling.”

In a statement ABC said, “After a long friendship, spanning more than 50 years, the universe has called the Doctor in a different direction and Doctor Who will no longer appear on the ABC beyond the current season.

“The BBC has today announced a new partnership with Disney+ to continue the series.

“ABC audiences can currently enjoy past seasons of Doctor Who, including the recent Centenary Special, on ABC iview.

“We are incredibly grateful to the generations of Whovians who have enjoyed Doctor Who with us on the ABC.

“Everyone at the ABC wishes the Doctor well on their adventures and we hope the Time Lord will visit us again at some stage in the future.”

It’s not the first time BBC has ripped shows from ABC, having previously moved premium dramas to its BBC First channels on Foxtel -but Doctor Who was one which remained with ABC.

David Tennant will play the Fourteenth Doctor for three specials, before Ncuti Gatwa takes over the role as the Fifteenth Doctor over the festive season in late 2023.

A new Doctor Who logo was also unveiled for a new era.


52 Responses

  1. Could you imagine Mickey Mouse as a guest star on “Dr Who” confronting a “Dalek”.

    The “Dalek” responds with “Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”

    Anthony of exciting Belfield, in the land of the Wangal and Darug Peoples of the Eora Nation.

  2. This is the new normal now for TV. So many shows that used to be on free to air first now are on streaming first. I don’t have a problem with this, but what is annoying is when they never end up on free to air. If you can’t wait you pay for it, but if you don’t mind waiting, then see it free a year later or so. I’d also like to see the streamers looking at allowing you to “buy” just one show – so if you do want to watch Doctor Who, but don’t care for anything else on Disney, you could pay a small fee per episode rather than a monthly subscription just to watch the one show.

    1. Maybe it depends on what business plan commercial broadcast TV will look at going forward, if for example the use of their streaming apps gains increased popularity due to the remote use of phones and other devices, the networks will develop these apps and buy more drama series to attract more viewers to watch them, thus increasing the potential distribution market in Australia for new shows.

    2. Signing up for a month though is significantly less than buying an individual shows DVD and based on the going rate of shows sold individually on other platforms by episode or series cheaper than that too.

      Disney+ don’t want people signing up to just watch Doctor Who episodes, they want them to stick around for their other content too.

      1. With DVDs you can watch a show as many times as you like and it will always be available when you want to watch it…so in the long run it’s a better investment. Streaming services can and do take shows offline, so just signing up for one month may be worth it if you only plan to watch a show once. If you want to it keep watching, you have to pay a fee each month which in the long run (e.g. one year or more) would be more expensive than buying DVDs or Blu-Rays.

    3. Depends how much would be charged for it though as the Rent Watch prices are usually fairly high in places like Fetch, Apple and Google TV. Doctor Who ones are Season 11 $28.99 (1) eps), Season 12 $26.98 (10 eps), Season 12 $16.99 (6 eps), the specials are generally $2.99 each (as a re most single episodes of shows). Outside of the one off Specials you’re better of just getting the Streamer who has it and watching even if you watch nothing else. As you say you don’t mind waiting, so once all the Doctor Who episodes are done they stay on there so you can binge them and just pay$11.99 for a month and cancel.

      It’s similar for others on those services, for instance House of Dragon is $28.99 for the whole season right now, while Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale is still $24.99 and we’re into Season 5 and I can find many other instances.

      1. So many typos in that oh well, Season 11 should have (10 eps) and the second season 12 should be 13 and I won’t punish myself for the extra space.

        Also as a note that I forgot to say, if Doctor Who went back to a 10 episode Season, all you’d have to do is wait 2 weeks sign up for 2 months and then catch-up watching weekly after that. As if you were prepared to buy and Watch on the others it’d be $26-$28, while a 2 month subscription would be $23.99 so still coming out ahead even if that was all that was watched on Disney+ (or wait 6 weeks buy a month and catch-up).

  3. This makes me sad. I appreciate them making another run for the US market, but Australia has an inbuilt legacy audience which has essentially been there from the beginning.

  4. Add me to the “in two minds” camp. Disappointed to see it leave BBC Worldwide, but at the same time it’s going to a place where the “foot traffic” is and it will engage (potentially) a whole new audience.

    I’m not a fan of the multiverse potential. Nor the possibility of the female companions being stabled as Disney princesses. I bought a year of D+ for ‘Obi Wan’. Not saying it hasn’t been value with a young niece and nephew, but I’ll need to seriously weigh up recommitting.

  5. Hey David, correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall the ABC having a lifetime agreement for Doctor Who.

    I think this was reported when the BBC sold most of their drama to Foxtel around 2013

    1. I could be completely off base here, but given Doctor Who is no longer owned by the BBC and is now in the hands of Sony Pictures Television, they can take it wherever the heck they like.

      1. Yeah that’s one of the interesting things with Bad Wolf Productions now fully being Sony Pictures Television (and the other subsidiary Whoniverse1 Ltd), as for years with Spider-Man, X-Men, Venom, Ghost Rider and Deadpool, Disney owned Marvel were at logger heads with Sony over it all as they had the rights. So now we see this happening with Disney+ and Sony PTV, at the same point where some of those Sony owned ones are back with Disney Marvel or about to be, so things must be really patched up now.

      2. Where do you get the idea that Doctor Who is no longer owned by the BBC? This is patently not true. The BBC still have creative control and own the IP. Doctor Who is being made by Bad Wolf, who now are owned by Sony Pictures, but that’s on behalf of the BBC.

        1. “Production company Bad Wolf will take over creative control on Doctor Who from the BBC starting with series 14, which will see the introduction of a new lead actor and the return of showrunner Russell T Davies. The Times reported that the BBC could lose out on up to £40 million of commercial revenue per every 10 episodes produced as a result of this deal, with one source remarking it’s “extraordinary” that the BBC have “rolled over.” However, BBC Studios counter that it will continue to commercially run Doctor Who and its associated properties, with the hope being that this collaboration with Bad Wolf will allow the franchise to be further established as a global brand.”

          via: radiotimes.com/tv/sci-fi/doctor-who-bad-wolf-creative-control-newsupdate/

          1. That basically means that rather than producing the show in house, it will now be outsourced to Bad Wolf. BBC Studios still retain the Doctor Who IP.

  6. As far as I can see the main issue for Dr. Who and the BBC in recent years is about the shows continued relevancy as a franchise, Dr. Who had become yet another example of showrunners / writers trying to creatively change something that was not originally broken and alienating its former devoted audience as a result. This nearly 60 year old series has a number of older generation fans who do not follow or understand the socio-political point scoring becoming prevalent in show business today, they just want simple entertainment and their old ‘hero’ characters back, this applies to numbers of fictional genres including those coming from Disney+. Without a good story the actual attraction for 60-80yr old classic comic book or fictional characters will have varied appeal to young viewers in this age of reality TV, social media, its human nature that any attempt to conform paying audiences (which is often forgotten) to a creative or political ideal will struggle to work in any scenario.

  7. Extremely disappointed by this decision which will surely see less viewers watch it not more! What does this mean for other BBC content that airs in Australia??

      1. Yes, it will make it more available to those who no longer watch free TV but what about the majority that still do? Most of the 150 million subscribers would probably be from the USA and not many Australians will fork out another $12.00 per month for another streaming service just to watch one show.

        Doctor Who was on life support but now it’s been given a death sentence by making it available to a small portion of its fanbase.

        1. The reported subscriber numbers for the USA is 44mil, the majority is international subscribers. The fan base for a series like Dr Who would be those who follow the Marvel or Star Wars universe on Disney

      2. I can’t see this logic at all. Free TV means it is available to all. Subscription TV is only available to those who can afford it and can afford and access high-speed internet. People can choose to watch free TV even if they have a subscription service such as Disney+, but the opposite isn’t true.

        This is a disappointing decision by BBC.

        1. “ SuburbanKL
          October 26, 2022 3:26 pm at 3:26 pm
          It will make it more available to those who no longer watch freetv”

          “ motionic
          October 26, 2022 6:59 pm at 6:59 pm
          I can’t see this logic at all. Free TV means it is available to all”

          Yes a completely absurd statement

          “ This is a disappointing decision by BBC”

          I can understand trying to grow and expand the availability of Doctor Who but to rip it away from their legacy markets (which I would count Aus/NZ and probably Canada) as well is just rude.

          1. It’s a decision for the BBC for further longevity of the series, ratings or iview viewership was not indicating a wide or growing audience. We have seen many series move from freetv to streamers and with the likelihood of a HBOMax service more will move across. It’s where the money is an no longer in free tv license fees, gone are the days of 250k plus for series. Distributors and studios need the revenue to continue.

  8. Unfortunately this is becoming the way with TV now, is becoming so big with so much on offer the powers that be show little regard for loyal followers because they are always chasing the big bucks. Nothing is a surprise anymore, everything will eventually become streaming and the viewer is the one left to cough up money just to have some entertainment. I will not be surprised in years to come there will be no FTA and we will all be streaming on numerous devices sitting in car parks, bus shelters, lining up for vacs when the next pandemic hits. Oh dear that’s “progress” for you.

  9. Pretty upset with this, yes it was a bbc decision, not a abc decision for disney to buy the rights for Who. I guess the classic who will disappear from Britbox, and other services for the current who(I think Stan or Netflix has rights for some current era who). Probably means the Mouse will be able to make more who, series, and even a Film now with the money the bbc will be getting from the Mouse.

    1. Don’t be so narrow minded and daft. What’s been hobbling the show is Chris Chibnall’s poor stewardship and the lack of momentum with massive waits between series that have beleaguered it since the start of the Capaldi era. If ‘woke’ is your yawnsomely lazy biggest concern, then brace yourself for the return of the even more forward thinking Davies.

    2. Doctor Who was never killed by who was the Doctor or whether the show was “woke” or not. It was never killed by low audience numbers. It was “killed” by a general manager who didn’t like the show, but times changed, general managers come and go.

      Doctor Who won’t die. It will change with the times.

  10. Also this means Disney have two Time Travellers with Blue Boxes, Loki with the Tesseract and referred to as a “criminal with a blue box, Doctor Who with the T.A.R.D.I.S and referred to as a “an idiot with a blue box.” In Loki though Mobius is more Doctor Who like and Loki a version of Missy when she was the Master (not all evil, not all good), so we’re kind of looking at that from the Masters perspective in Loki.

    So wonder if somewhere down the line Loki and Doctor Who will cross paths in some sort of wibbly, wobbly time thing, guess though we don’t have to look far if Disney production values go into Doctor Who to see what it may look like.

  11. Hope ABC can get it as second run content ala something like Nine Perfect Strangers being on SBS/Black Mirror on ABC (I’m aware it originally aired on SBS before it became a Netflix series).

  12. Ah well it’s a shame but then again the way the ABC treated it in the last few years having it on ABC TV Plus and in glorious SD, I’m sure they’re not that concerned in reality, even on iView highest bitrate is 720p on a good connection. I’m sure for many like myself it meant downloading it from other sources to get HD, guessing this is why seasons started disappearing of Amazon Prime, as now it’s only Seasons 6 to 10 of the regenerated series from 2006 on.

      1. Except when they didn’t! We were lucky to have loads of repeats in the 80s, but they tended to be the same seasons. Saturday mornings in the 90s were fun, with Doctor Who often scheduled but not airing due to the cricket or other events, and then episodes were skipped over or truncated.
        Let’s also not forget that the ABC refused to air Dr Who in a later timeslot in the 70s to accommodate a handful of stories, effectively banning them from Australian screens. These were: The Daleks Masterplan, Inferno, The Mind of Evil, The Daemons & The Deadly Assassin (all classics!). They were also very slow with purchasing new seasons, often resulting in a huge wait.
        The indifference didn’t stop there, with gaps and censorship – that they could have managed much better as the national broadcaster.
        All this, and yet they did co-fund The Five Doctors, so that’s an advantage!

    1. BBC have general entertainment channels in lots of regions (including BBC First here). I assume Disney paid more than what BBC could generate in ad revenue on its own channels, or selling the rights in different broadcast markets.

    2. BBC America nowadays is a channel run by AMC and it is no longer a destination for British content – it basically reruns back to back episodes of Bones all week and films most the weekend with the only BBC content left standing being an hour of the Graham Norton Show and a Saturday morning block of natural history shows.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the BBC are about to pull out of it. Most their archive content is with BritBox now, whilst most new drama on the BBC is part funded by international streamers in exchange for international rights, so the channel probably no longer serves it’s original purpose.

  13. Avid Whovian,
    I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, the funding it will bring in will only be a good thing for the show, and hopefully we can get a full season and not just a bunch of specials.
    But on the other hand, as a loyal viewer, and with the 60th anniversary being the next episode to air, plus with ABCs constant commitment to the show, this does feel like a disservice to the fans making them pay. Then again we have a year to get used to the idea, so…I guess we will wait and see.

    1. As a fellow Whovian I definitely agree. I feel quite torn about the legacy of Doctor Who being intertwined with the ABC and its near-60 year history and the love the ABC has shown the series over its life such as ABC Managing Director Mark Scott’s love for the show.
      But in recent years it has been relegated to ABC TV Plus in awful SD and only at 720p on iView as noted by another person here even though it can be acquired in up to 4K nowadays! It is a far cry from the live simulcasts on 2013-2015 in the wee hours of the morning and the immediate post-show reaction on Whovians that we used to have.
      So, hopefully Disney+ can bring some of this love and attention the show deserves as well as the funding for more episodes or bigger and better “blockbuster” episodes. As long as it doesn’t ruin it with a Disney-imposed “look” or sanitation then I think we will all be better served as loyal Doctor Who fans

      1. Australia got Doctor Who almost immediately on iView after it was broadcast in the UK (before the Americans!) and less than 24 hours on free to air. The only reason why it is on ABC TV Plus is because of the Sunday broadcast on the BBC, and ABC’s commitment to news and current affairs on Monday.

        As I mentioned the ABC has given Doctor Who so much respect and love over the years.

    1. 1. Doctor Who fans who subscribe to Disney+
      2. Those who weren’t fans of Russel T. Davis taking over the show the first time round.
      3. People who haven’t watched Doctor Who in the last 17 years and don’t give a damn.

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