March 3, 2021

Blue Ant Media Expands Partnership with BBC Studios to Bring BBC First to Canada

BBC First will be home to a bevy of the best British scripted and factual entertainment programming, including BBC original series Top Gear, The Office, Death in Paradise, and The Graham Norton Show

BBC First marks second partnership for Blue Ant Media and BBC Studios following the successful launch of BBC Earth in Canada in 2017

BBC First’s launch in Canada to include a month-long nationwide free preview event, running from March 16 – April 16

Toronto, ON/New York, NYInternational producer, distributor and channel operator, Blue Ant Media announced today an expanded partnership with BBC Studios, producers and distributors of unparalleled content, to launch BBC First in Canada. Featuring premium scripted and factual entertainment programming, BBC First joins existing Blue Ant Media and BBC Studios channel BBC Earth as part of Blue Ant Media’s Canadian cable television portfolio. Scheduled to debut on Tuesday, March 16, the ad-supported channel will give Canadians access to BBC First’s original, award-winning British programming slate. Launch titles include uniquely British and globally-recognized BBC original series Top Gear, Death in Paradise, The Office, and The Graham Norton Show.

“Canadians love British television, and Blue Ant Media’s expanded partnership with BBC Studios underpins our commitment to invest in high-quality, distinctive programs we know our audiences will enjoy,” says Jamie Schouela, President, Global Channels and Media, Blue Ant Media. “To celebrate the launch of BBC First, we’ve scheduled a month-long free preview event offering audiences the opportunity to watch their favorite U.K. series all in one place.”

Rebecca Glashow, President, BBC Studios – Americas, says: “The launch of BBC First continues our relationship with Blue Ant Media, a great partnership that has led to much success for BBC Earth in Canada. They intuitively understand the BBC brand, in-market needs and how to connect with audiences.”

From drama to comedy, action and adventure to mysterious thrillers, BBC First will showcase a huge breadth of programs with a uniquely British perspective. The channel will launch with a rich catalogue of globally-recognized brands, including factual entertainment BBC original series Top Gear (Season 30, Canadian Broadcast Premiere), following presenters Andrew Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness, and Chris Harris in pursuit of hijinks and motoring mayhem; The Graham Norton Show (Season 28), distributed by ITV, with the BAFTA Award-winning talk show host welcoming the biggest Hollywood stars to his sofa every week for some late-night laughs (and drinks); and Antiques Roadshow (Season 41), the BBC’s longest-running factual program where members of the public have their prized possessions appraised by top antique experts.

BBC First’s witty and compelling scripted launch titles include The Office (Season 1), the hit U.K series widely considered one of the most influential comedies of the 21st Century. Written by Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, The Office is a British mockumentary following the day-to-day troubles of uninspired desk jockeys (including Martin Freeman) working at a mediocre paper company headed up by white-collar boss, David Brent (Gervais). Also premiering on BBC First for launch, Father Brown (Season 6), the crime-busting, charismatic priest (Mark Williams, Harry Potter) who solves murders in the idyllic English countryside; Death in Paradise (Season 6), a popular whodunit series following DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) as he attempts to solve a slew of baffling murders in the sun-soaked Caribbean; and Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators (Season 1), a comedic drama that follows an oddball couple of private detectives who investigate crime in Stratford-upon Avon.

BBC First marks the second joint venture between Blue Ant Media and BBC Studios. Both broadcasters first entered into an agreement to launch the factual channel BBC Earth in January 2017. Beginning March 16, BBC First will broadcast in Canada in HD and will replace Blue Ant Media’s existing HIFI channel. BBC First is an ad-supported TV channel available for advertising and sponsorship opportunities to coincide with its launch in Canada.

About Blue Ant Media

Blue Ant Media is a privately held, international content producer, distributor and channel operator. We own and operate numerous production companies in North America and Asia-Pacific under the Blue Ant Studios banner, creating content for broadcasters and streaming platforms in multiple genres including factual entertainment, natural history, documentary, adult animation and drama. Our distribution business, Blue Ant International, offers a substantial catalogue of content, including one of the world’s largest 4K natural history offerings. Blue Ant Media operates channels under nine brands including Love Nature, Smithsonian Channel Canada, BBC Earth (Canada) and more. Blue Ant Media is headquartered in Toronto, with nine international offices in Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, Japan, London, Dunedin, Washington DC and Beijing.

About BBC Studios

BBC Studios, a global content company with bold British creativity at its heart, is a commercial subsidiary of the BBC. Able to take an idea seamlessly from thought to screen and beyond, its activities span content financing, development, production, sales, branded services, and ancillaries across both its own productions, and programs and formats made by high-quality UK independents. Award-winning British programs made by the business are internationally recognized across a broad range of genres and specialisms, with brands like Dancing with the Stars/Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear, Doctor Who and Bluey. BBC Studios has offices in 22 markets globally, including ten production bases in the UK and production bases or partnerships in a further nine countries around the world. The company, which ordinarily makes around 2,500 hours of content a year for both the BBC and third parties including Apple, Amazon and China Mobile, is a champion for British creativity around the world. It is also a committed partner for the UK’s independent sector through a mix of equity partnerships, content investment and international distribution for program titles. To the BBC, BBC Studios contributes both cash dividends and funds for program-making, supporting the license fee and enhancing programs for UK audiences.

In the Americas, BBC Studios – with team members across the region – manages joint venture relationships with AMC Networks for flagship channel BBC AMERICA (U.S.) – home of original series Killing Eve and global brands Seven Worlds: One PlanetDoctor Who, and Top Gear – and with ITV for SVoD service BritBox (U.S./Canada), as well as a strategic partnership in Canada with Blue Ant Media for BBC Earth Channel. The company also operates a robust linear and digital content sales and co-productions operation, as well as a franchise management business.  In addition, BBC Studios operates a major production unit in Los Angeles responsible for the highly-rated, Emmy®-nominated Dancing with the Stars and multi-award-winning Life Below Zero.  In Brazil, through a production partnership with Endemol Shine, local production Dancing Brasil has become a breakout hit.  In addition, the company has recently launched BBC SELECT in the U.S. and Canada, an ad-free, digital streaming channel offering unrivalled content across culture, politics and ideas, on Amazon Prime Video Channels and the Apple TV app.

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