BBC announces Chris Achilleos as Executive News Editor, Streaming

Chris Achilleos has been appointed Executive News Editor, Streaming. This new role will play a key part in the BBC’s digital transformation plans as it grows streaming on BBC iPlayer, BBC News live pages and on will oversee this work and will lead three teams focused on single-story live streams; curation and amplification of the most important moments in broadcast; and the development of new streaming-first formats.With audiences increasingly live-streaming news, the appointment reflects the BBC’s commitment to radically enhancing its news offer on BBC iPlayer and to making news content easier to discover, navigate and use. This will ensure the BBC can go live whenever stories break and bring audiences closer to the story, making the most of the best live moments on digital platforms.Chris joins the BBC from ITV News, where he has been Head of ITVX, leading the broadcaster's news service on their streaming platform. Before that, he was deputy head of digital at ITV, focusing on innovation and launching digital products aimed at reaching new audiences.Chris was involved in the launch of The Rundown, ITV's social media news service for young people, and led the expansion of ITV News' social team, and was previously digital output editor. He began his career as a producer at Sky News, working in a range of roles including editing its breakfast programme.Chris Achilleos says: “I’m thrilled to be joining the BBC to lead its expansion of streaming news. BBC News has ambitious plans to grow its streaming output, and I’m really looking forward to working with talented teams across the organisation to grow the offer for audiences on iPlayer, the BBC News website and app.”Naja Nielsen, Digital Director, BBC News says: "Chris is an excellent leader in news streaming as evidenced by his work at ITVX and we’re delighted he has chosen to join us at this pivotal moment.As well as extensive editorial and digital experience, Chris brings drive and imagination to this role that will be crucial as we grow our streaming offer. We want our digital platforms to be the stand-out streaming service globally for news and journalism so we are excited to see the positive impact his strong vision and editorial judgement will have as we work to realise our ambitious plans.”

BBC sells Elstree studio to French company

AXA Investment Managers, the investment arm of leading French insurance company AXA, will buy renowned Elstree studio complex from the BBC. The deal, valued at £70 million, is set to provide a significant financial boost to the BBC.Situated on a sprawling 16-acre site near Watford, north-west of London, the Elstree studio complex has been a hub for UK television and film production for over a century. The acquisition aligns with AXA's strategic focus on prime real estate investments, particularly in film and TV production spaces near major urban centers.As part of the agreement, the BBC will enter into a 25-year leaseback of a portion of the facilities, ensuring continuity in its operations and the continued filming of popular soap opera EastEnders at the Elstree location. The deal is expected to reach completion early next year.Alan Dickson, Chief Finance Officer at the BBC, stated that the sale of the Elstree Centre is part of an ongoing review of the BBC’s property portfolio to provide the best value for license fee payers." This move comes as the BBC faces financial challenges, having experienced a freeze in the license fee and the need to implement cost-saving measures.AXA Investment Managers, recognizing the potential of the Elstree studio complex, is finalizing plans to invest in expansion and additional support facilities. Despite industry-wide pressures on production budgets, AXA remains optimistic about the demand for reliable studio spaces.John O’Driscoll, Global Co-Head of Real Estate at AXA Investment Managers, said that this is possibly the most established studio location in the UK. "We like the idea of something that works, but also something that can be improved." The Elstree deal underscores the increasing investor interest in the UK's studio sector, which has become integral to the global film industry. With advanced film technology, a skilled workforce, and attractive tax incentives, the UK continues to attract major players in the entertainment industry.

BBC World Service outlines move to digital-first service

The BBC World Service has outlined plans to accelerate its digital offering and increase impact with audiences around the globe. This supports the BBC’s strategy, announced earlier this year, to create a modern, digital-led and streamlined organisation that drives the most value from the licence fee and delivers more for audiences.Changing audience needs around the world - with more people accessing news digitally - go alongside a challenging financial climate. High inflation, soaring costs, and a cash-flat Licence Fee settlement have led to tough choices across the BBC, and the BBC’s international services need to make a saving of £28.5m, as part of the wider £500m of annual savings and reinvestment to make the BBC digital-led.Today’s proposals entail a net total of around 382 post closures.The proposals will see seven more language services moving to digital only, modelling the success of others which are already offering purely digital services and performing well with audiences. This means that nearly half of all 41 language services will be digital only.The BBC World Service will continue to operate in all the languages and countries where it is currently present, including the new languages added during its expansion in 2016. No language services will close.Some TV and radio programmes will stop under the new plans. BBC Arabic radio and BBC Persian radio will also cease.The World Service will continue to serve audiences during moments of jeopardy and will ensure audiences in countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Afghanistan have access to vital news services, using appropriate broadcast and distribution platforms.World Service English will continue to operate as 24 hour broadcast radio, available around the world. Some new scheduling, programmes and podcasts will be set out in due course.The World Service has already achieved record levels of growth on digital platforms, currently reaching 148m people in an average week. The digital share of World Service Languages reach has more than doubled, from 19 percent to 43 percent since 2018.Director of BBC World Service Liliane Landor says: “The role of the BBC has never been more crucial worldwide. The BBC is trusted by hundreds of millions of people for fair and impartial news, especially in countries where this is in short supply. We help people in times of crisis. We will continue to bring the best journalism to audiences in English and more than 40 languages, as well as increasing the impact and influence of our journalism by making our stories go further.“There is a compelling case for expanding our digital services across the World Service in order to better serve and connect with our audiences. The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing.”The proposed changes to the World Service include:Focusing on our own platforms and presence in markets, and reducing the volume of syndicated TV and radio content on partners’ platforms in some territories. A focus on impact, rather than reach, means we need more audiences to come to our platforms. This is where audiences most closely associate with the BBC and where we can build long-term engagement.Creating a new centralised digital-first Commissioning and Newsgathering Content Production Hub to create high-impact content for distribution across all non-English language services.Moving some production out of London and closer to audiences to drive engagement, for example moving the Thai service from London to Bangkok, the Korean service to Seoul, the Bangla service to Dhaka and the Focus On Africa TV bulletin to broadcast from Nairobi.Bringing together long-form content activity such as investigations and documentaries made by Africa Eye, the Investigations Unit and BBC Arabic documentaries to ensure a more collaborative approach across our platforms and services to enable stories to travel further across the world, as well as in the UK.Creating a new China Global Unit based in London to tell the global story of China to the world.Creating a dynamic Africa content hub that commissions and delivers original, distinctive and impactful digital first content for all 12 African language services, digital, TV/Radio, plus coverage of the continent for the rest of the BBC.Continuing linear TV broadcasting for both Arabic and Persian languages and investing in building audio and other digital capability in Arabic and Persian to replace radio.Closing some radio services, for example Arabic, Bangla, Persian and some TV programming on local broadcasters across Africa and Asia.World Service English making changes to its content and schedules which will allow investment in new initiatives, including a new podcast for younger audiences globally, and developing the podcast offer more broadly. The station also plans to launch a new hour-long science strand from the new science unit in Cardiff, as well as adding more live news and sports programming to the schedule.These proposals are now subject to consultation with staff and trade unions.

New podcasts help drive record number of weekly users on BBC Sounds

It’s… Wagatha Christie was among the hugely popular new podcasts that helped bring a record 4.3 million weekly users to BBC Sounds between April and June this year, with a peak of 4.45 million during the week Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy’s trial went to court.New titles Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley, It’s... Wagatha Christie and The People Vs J. Edgar Hoover were among the most popular podcasts on BBC Sounds this quarter.Returning series’ proved popular among younger listeners with Match Of The Day: Top 10 the most popular podcast for under 35 year olds, and Bad People and You’re Dead To Me once again in the top ten.6 Degrees with Jamie and Spencer had the highest proportion of listeners under 35 with Pressed, Match Of The Day: Top 10 and The Footballer’s Football Podcast among the top ten.New series of The Unbelievable Truth, The News Quiz and Just A Minute were among the most popular on demand radio programmes after The Archers, with Radio 1’s Dance Anthems topping the list for listeners under 35.New music show launched for Back To Back Sounds Everything Is Emo with Hayley Williams was among the most popular music mixes this quarter.The latest data shows there were 392 million plays of all audio on BBC Sounds, with a total of 177 million plays for on-demand radio and podcasts in this quarter.54 percent of overall plays on BBC Sounds were for live content and 65 percent of all listening hours on BBC Sounds were live.On-demand radio programmesThe new series of David Mitchell’s enduringly popular The Unbelievable Truth was the most listened to on-demand radio programme after The Archers for all adults on BBC Sounds this quarter, followed by In Our Time and The News Quiz. They also featured in the top ten most listened to radio programmes for under 35s, which was topped by Radio 1’s Dance Anthems.The Breakfast Show with Greg James had the highest proportion of listeners under 35, followed by Radio 1 Anthems and Kenny Allstar.Podcasts on BBC SoundsNew podcasts that launched this quarter were among the most listened to on BBC Sounds. Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley which uncovers the true stories of Victorian women accused of murder, was the most popular. It’s... Wagatha Christie, launched around the Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy libel case that dominated the headlines, proved popular among all adults and listeners under 35 this quarter.Increasingly popular returning series’ helped drive younger listeners on BBC Sounds this quarter, with Match Of The Day: Top 10 the most popular for listeners under 35. Bad People, the podcast that questions the psychology behind some of the most disturbing cases in modern history, returned with a series of special episodes for pride month, Bi-People, and was once again among the top ten most listened to podcast for under 35 year olds, along with the beloved history podcast You’re Dead To Me.The acclaimed new series The People Vs. J. Edgar Hoover also featured in the top ten most listened to podcasts, along with Newscast, Putin and Ukrainecast following another busy news period.With Hollywood royalty now lining up to be their guests, 6 Degrees with Jamie and Spencer was among the most listened to podcasts by under 35 year olds, as well as the highest proportion of listeners under 35 this quarter. The straight-talking podcast Pressed was also among the podcasts with the highest proportion of listeners under 35, and with the season reaching its climax, Match of the Day Top 10 was the most popular podcast among younger listeners.Music mixesNew music show Everything Is Emo with Paramore’s Hayley Williams launched for Back To Back Sounds, the new music feature on BBC Sounds, was among the most popular music mixes, contributing to a total of 3 million plays of music this quarter.The consistently popular Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton was the most listened to music mix, followed by Radio 1 Happy and the long awaited return of Glastonbury, after the festival’s three year hiatus.BBC podcasts and radio programmes on third party platformsFrom a total of 264 million global podcast downloads across the world during this quarter, Global News Podcast (BBC World Service), The Documentary (BBC World Service) and Woman’s Hour (Radio 4) were the most popular.

BBC announces Lindsay Salt as new Director of BBC Drama

Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer today announced Lindsay Salt as the Director of BBC Drama.The BBC commissions more drama than anyone else in the UK and has the widest remit within British drama broadcasting.Lindsay will be responsible for leading this critical genre and delivering distinctive, world-beating content on BBC iPlayer and the portfolio of channels. Charlotte Moore, BBC’s Chief Content Officer says: “Lindsay’s appointment heralds an exciting new era for BBC Drama. She has been responsible for an impressive breadth of shows and her track record as a commissioner underlines her passion for creating big hits and developing new and diverse voices. She’s an inspiring creative leader with a sophisticated understanding of British audience tastes which makes her perfectly placed to lead the genre into the future with work that will continue to push the boundaries and disrupt the mainstream. BBC Drama is in outstanding form and she has ambitious plans to evolve the creative strategy and build her own distinctive slate that is unique to the BBC and feels especially relevant to audiences across the UK in a fiercely competitive global landscape.” Lindsay Salt says: “My time at Netflix under the generous and visionary leadership of Anne Mensah has been a total joy. However, the opportunity to join the BBC was too special to ignore. Its Drama programming is revered around the globe and I can't wait to get started with the world class team, who empower talent and producers to create iconic shows that stand the test of time. What a privilege to build upon that legacy and find and nurture the storytelling that’ll lead us into the next pivotal phase of the BBC.”Lindsay joins the BBC from Netflix, since being there in 2019 she was part of the first UK Scripted team and established the new slate with Anne Mensah. Her commissions include Baby Reindeer, One Day, The F*** it Bucket, Palomino and Half Bad. She also worked across shows including Heartstopper and The Crown Season 5.Prior to that, she was Head of Development at Sky Drama UK where she ran the development slate for Sky One and Sky Atlantic and was across developments ranging from The Lazarus Project to The Third Day. She started her career at Left Bank Pictures where she worked across a range of productions and development both as a producer and script editor.Lindsay will report directly to Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer and lead the world class BBC drama commissioning team.She will start her new role in the Autumn and Ben Irving will continue as Acting Director in the interim.

BBC Wimbledon coverage smashes online viewing record

With more and more viewers seeking out live and on-demand digital content than ever before, the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon 2022 has beaten the 30.5m stream record set in 2021, making it the most streamed Wimbledon ever. In addition, the volume of hours consumed by audiences on TV was the highest since the 2016 Championships which saw Andy Murray lift the Men’s singles title.On BBC One, the Wimbledon Men’s Final also achieved a very high peak audience of 7.5m. The match was also streamed live 2.6m times on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online.The match received a peak share of 43% as viewers watched Novak Djokovic face Nick Kyrgios, with Djokovic walking away victorious.The Wimbledon Women’s Final on Saturday achieved an impressive peak of 3.1m, which saw Elena Rybakina triumph over Ons Jabeur. It was streamed 712,000 times on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online.Across the whole Championships 25.5m people have watched Wimbledon 2022 on BBC TV.Director of Sport, Barbara Slater, says: “We are enormously proud to bring extensive coverage of Wimbledon to our audiences, who this year have devoured every moment across all our platforms with these record breaking figures. It’s been another electrifying Championship and we are delighted that we can offer audiences different ways to follow the action and to meet the ever increasing appetite for on demand viewing.”