After Channel 4 signed a three-year £75 million deal with Love Productions, from 2017 we will see a new marquee for the nation’s favourite Great British Bake Off.
Along with Channel 4 favourites such as Gogglebox, Come Dine With Me and Location, Location, Location, The Great British Bake Off will be in good company to thrive as the ‘quintessential’ British brand associated with the show and, until now, with the BBC.
Last year’s final of the cooking contest was the UK’s most watched television programme of the year, with 13.4 million viewers tuning in to see Nadiya Hussain crowned queen baker. The launch episode of the latest series drew in a record audience of 10 million viewers, nearly half the total viewing audience that evening. Who would have thought ten years ago that the way to reach millennials would be through baking?
We expect viewing figures to decrease with the move to Channel 4, but the audience profile is also likely to change, as the channel has a greater pull for the younger 16-34 age bracket. TV history shows there are success stories from switching channels, such as this year’s Formula One coverage moving from BBC to Channel 4, and, even though ratings have not reached the dizzy heights of the BBC days, Jonathan Ross has continued to attract big name guests and keep a high profile over on ITV.
With host Mary Berry and presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc already bowing out of the Channel 4 remake, stating they are not “in it for the dough”, it is, however, left to silver fox Paul Hollywood to lead the show and keep watch over the soggy bottoms. The move to Channel 4 and loss of the big names has been met by public apprehension. However, Craig Orr (Director of Commissioning and Development for MTV International) believes that, even though the presenting line up has been pivotal to Bake Off’s success, the real stars have been the contestant bakers. He argued that “if they keep casting in the same brilliant way and keep showcasing the brilliant format in the same way, they’ve bought a lot more than a tent and a couple of cakes”.
For brands, the move to Channel 4 of course provides an opportunity to partner up with a previously off-limits show, and product placements will no doubt feature as part of wider-reaching sponsorship deals.
Channel 4 hopes to begin airing the programme in 2017, starting with a celebrity special in aid of Stand Up To Cancer. For now, the focus is on what the deal means for the wider TV industry. A senior BBC executive has already argued that the deal is another incentive for Channel 4 to be privatised; a plan already revealed to have been discussed after a government document was leaked last year. We could even see more programming making similar moves, with shadow culture minister Chi Onwurah suggesting that the BBC could lose more of its prime time show formats as a result of the agreement to fund the cost of TV licences for the over-75s.
What’s interesting is that, despite speculation, the rights to Bake Off went to a broadcast TV rival rather than a streaming service. Netflix, for now, seems to be focusing on original content, rather than licensing deals, announcing this month that it’s aiming for half of its content to be made up of original programming over the coming years. Amazon Prime’s Jeremy Clarkson-hosted Top Gear spin-off, meanwhile, is set to arrive in November this year, so it won’t be long until we find out whether streaming services will be able to compete with the big-spending, high-reaching broadcast TV channels, after all.